Australia’s AGL to create world’s largest virtual power plant
Last week, Australian utility AGL announced that it will create the “world’s largest” virtual power plant (VPP), connecting 1,000 batteries installed in homes and businesses in South Australia.
The VPP, valued at $20 million AUD, will be capable of storing 7MWh of energy, with an output equivalent to a 5MW solar peaking plant. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has “conditionally committed” up to $5 million toward funding the project.
The battery systems and energy management software required for the project will be supplied by US-based energy storage developer Sunverge.
The VPP works by directing the battery power in unison using a cloud-connected intelligent control system. If batteries are operated independently, they are not guaranteed to provide grid services. When working together on a large-scale, the batteries can discharge at a time that will benefit both customer and community.
According to AGL CEO Andy Vesey, the VPP will give consumers the ability to consume more of the energy generated from their rooftop solar systems, thereby lowering power bills and reducing emissions. “We believe it will demonstrate alternative ways to manage peaks in energy demand, contributing to grid stability and supporting the higher penetration of intermittent, renewable generation on the grid,” he said.
The virtual power plant will be rolled out in three phases over the course of 18 months. Customers participating in the scheme will be able to purchase a 5kW/7.7 kWh energy storage system including hardware, software and installation. Consumers with sufficient excess solar generation can expect a seven-year payback period.
South Australian Treasurer and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis, said: “The State Government congratulates AGL for looking at innovative ways to use batteries to increase the penetration of renewables.
“We encourage others in the private sector to also consider how dispatchable renewable energy technology can be used to deliver electricity around-the-clock.”
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.