South Australia teams with Tesla to turn homes into 250MW “virtual solar power plant”

The State of South Australia has agreed a partnership deal with electric vehicle maker Tesla to create a network of 50,000 solar powered homes, which they say will form a "virtual power plant". 

The target is to fit 250MW of photovoltaic panels to the homes, store excess energy in batteries to cover the hours of darkness and if there is a net surplus, to feed it into the state grid. 

Households that participate will have their energy bills cut by 30% over the next two years, according to the Australian Energy Market Commission, a total reduction of about US$235m.

The South Australian government said residents would also benefit from increased energy stability. A large blackout took place in the region in 2016 with as many as 10,000 homes losing power for two days or more.

A trial of 1,100 properties has already started. Tesla’s products are being installed at no up-front cost, as households will pay for their panels through their electricity bills. 

After the trial, the plan is to install similar systems at 50,000 homes over the next four years.

The project is funded with a $1.6m grant from the state government and a $24m loan from the Renewable Technology Fund.

Zoe Bettison, South Australia’s social housing minister, said: "We know that people in social housing can often struggle meeting their everyday needs and this initiative will take some pressure off their household budget. 

"I am very pleased that this government is able to back South Australia’s housing trust tenants through providing cheaper power through this exciting programme."

Image: A Tesla Powerwall (Tesla)

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