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South Australia to get ‘world’s largest virtual power plant’

Australian power company AGL is to install the largest ‘virtual power plant’ in the world in Adelaide, South Australia using batteries from San Francisco-headquartered energy storage firm Sunverge Energy.

AGL will install 1,000 centrally controlled batteries in South Australian homes and businesses with a combined 5MW/7MWh storage capacity. The AU$20 million (US$15.4 million) project aims to help solve the state’s grid challenges and reduce the risk of power price shocks in the state. Last month saw a raging national debate over whether renewables had caused extreme electricity price hikes in the state with some claiming that renewables are being deployed too fast for the grid to cope. However new energy minister Josh Frydenburg said that there were a number of complex factors in the price hikes with renewables only a small part of the problem.

AGL has selected Sunverge batteries and control systems for phase one of the project. Sunverge received an ARENA-backed investment boost and its batteries are also being trialled in Queensland by Ergon Energy.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has conditionally committed up toAU$5 million funding for AGL's South Australia project.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said: “When small-scale batteries work together they become more than the sum of their parts. AGL plans to operate the batteries as a kind of virtual power plant, installing them alongside solar PV and linking all 1,000 systems with centralised monitoring and management software.

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