Virtual Power Plant Project for Alice Springs

Alice Springs’ Future Grid is delivering the Northern Territory’s first virtual power plant, writes Greg King-Evans.

The town of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory has a goal of achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030. Part of that goal has been the formation of the Alice Springs Future Grid, a collaborative project of $12.5 million backed by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government.

It focuses on removing barriers to renewable energy in the Alice Springs electrical system.

Now the project has taken a giant leap forward by appointing energy management provider SwitchDin to deliver the Northern Territory’s first Virtual Power Plant (VPP).

SwitchDin provides a complete distributed energy orchestration technology platform for residential and commercial solar power, batteries, electric vehicles and loads. The company will provide the technology that connects solar and battery systems to Alice Springs to create the VPP Solar Connect which will offer the city’s community the opportunity to participate in a series of innovative trials.

“Alice Springs has a long history of renewable energy innovation, including the DKA Solar Center, Bushlight, Alice Solar City and the Intyalheme Center for Future Energy,” says Lyndon Frearson, Alice Springs Future Grid Project Manager. , from local engineering company Ekistica.

“The creation of the Solar Connect VPP involved technical and economic challenges, legal and regulatory provisions and community engagement, requiring a huge collaborative effort between project partners.

“The process required strong discussion and decision-making, which was uncomfortable at times, but we recognize that friction is a design feature of the Alice Springs Future Grid project and a byproduct of relationship building and overcoming obstacles in a changing environment.”

Delivery of the Solar Connect VPP is coordinated by the Intyalheme Center for Future Energy on behalf of Desert Knowledge Australia, with project partners including Jacana Energy, Power and Water Corporation and Arid Lands Environment Centre.

CSIRO is also involved in disseminating project results throughout the Australian energy industry.

The VPP Solar Connect will use Stormcloud, an intelligent digital platform that securely connects distributed energy resources across the grid to make it safe and efficient.

Alice Springs has a proud history of adopting solar power. Photo: supplied.

“SwitchDin has worked with major energy retailers across Australia to create VPPs using Stormcloud,” said SwitchDin CEO Dr Andrew Mears.

“What we are doing with the Solar Connect VPP is an example of how our technology is being used to optimize rooftop solar and home batteries for the benefit of the grid, households and communities.

“The Solar Connect VPP shows how we can work in regional locations such as Alice Springs, which can reduce the need for additional investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure to send power from generators. centralized electricity.

The Solar Connect VPP project continues a long history of Alice Springs embracing solar energy.

“The community of Alice Springs has always been at the forefront of the transition to renewable energy, especially solar energy,” says Louisa Kinnear, CEO of Jacana Energy.

“His efforts in this innovative trial, combined with the new technologies used and the sharing of knowledge between the project partners, will help us all move to a clean energy future.”

The Power and Water Corporation, owned by the Northern Territory Government, is proud to be part of the project, helping to reduce household reliance on grid electricity and maximizing the return on investment in rooftop solar and home batteries .

“The VPP trial aims to enable our customers to connect larger solar PV systems and export more energy into the grid than ever before, while relying on system security and stability,” says Thomas Wearne, Sub-Project Manager, Future Network Deployments, Power and Water Company.

“Power and Water Corporation is proud to partner with this project and explore potential solutions to contribute to the Northern Territory Government’s 50% renewable energy target.”

The Alice Springs Future Grid project is expected to be completed in mid-2023.

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