Tesla builds world’s biggest ‘virtual power plant’
At least 50,000 homes in Australia are getting solar panels and Tesla battery storage units, connecting to the electricity grid to form the world’s largest “virtual power plant”
Tesla already put together the world’s biggest lithium battery in Australia. Now it’s going for another record.
Virtual power plants work by using multiple energy sources — rather than one big power station — to ensure a reliable supply. In South Australia’s case, the solar panels on people’s homes will generate electricity that can be stored in the battery units and then supplied to customers.
The four-year project is being bankrolled by taxpayers through a government grant and a state-funded technology fund totaling $32 million Australian dollars ($25 million).
The system will monitor data across the network of solar panels and batteries in order to provide a more reliable energy supply. That’s a key issue in South Australia, which has suffered from frequent power outages and shortages.
As part of the broader efforts to improve the state’s energy supply, the government in December switched on the world’s largest lithium ion battery, a project spearheaded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
South Australia’s 1.7 million residents suffer regular power cuts and energy shortages. A major blackout occurred last February when a heat wave caused demand to spike. And in late 2016, much of the state was left without power after a storm damaged crucial transmission lines.