Apr 8, 2020

Tesla: the possibilities of a virtual power plant

Energy Storage
William Girling
3 min
AEMO has issued a new report examining a southern Australia virtual power plant (VPP) it has been developing with tech innovator Tesla

AEMO has issued a new report examining a southern Australia virtual power plant (VPP) it has been developing with tech innovator Tesla.

Envisioned as a project that will prove the real-world viability of augmenting current energy infrastructure with new technology, Tesla’s contribution involves the supply of solar PVs (photovoltaic panels) and battery storage units.

With the batteries storing solar-generated energy, they form a connected network which can supplement grids to keep utility costs lower for consumers, as well as helping to maintain regular service when there are unexpected grid outages. 

One example given in the report of the VPP in action is an incident at Kogan Creek, Queensland during October 2019. On this occasion, approximately 748 MW of power unexpectedly dropped out and the grid’s operational frequency reduced to 49.61 Hz.

However, the VPP was able to rectify this anomaly by immediately injecting stored power into the grid to aid recovery. This and other incidents like it appear to confirm AEMO’s and Tesla’s assessments of the VPP as a proven asset to the Australian energy sector. 

Helping to answer important questions

Commenting in a press release, Lynne Gallagher, interim CEO of Energy Consumers Australia, highlighted the long-term positive impact that the VPP trial might have not just on energy but also future lifestyles.


“The VPP Trial is important because it will not only help us answer technical questions about this exciting new technology, but how to make it work for people and how they use energy in their homes and businesses.

“Energy is deeply embedded in the way we live our lives, and bringing consumers into the innovation process is a critical part of developing successful new energy services,” she said.

The scale of the project’s overall success might be indicated by its encouraging ability in the Kogan Creek incident despite being only 2% complete (the VPP’s current phase involves scaling to 1,100 equipped homes, but its completed figure will be closer to 50,000).

“Scalability of VPPs is vital,” notes Tesla in its feedback included in the AEMO report.

“Tesla’s experience over the first six months of the VPP is that there are areas for improvement to streamline the registration process and encourage greater coordination of DER (distributed energy resource) assets.”

Improved performance will be welcomed and encouraged by AEMO, which has implemented an Integrated System Plan to retire 63% of the nation’s coal-based power plants by 2040 and to provide 22% of Australia’s energy requirements from solar alone. 

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Jun 7, 2021

Trafigura and Yara International explore clean ammonia usage

Dominic Ellis
2 min
Commodity trading company Trafigura and Yara International sign MoU to explore developing ammonia as a clean fuel in shipping

Independent commodity trading company Trafigura and Yara International have signed an MoU to explore developing ammonia as a clean fuel in shipping and ammonia fuel infrastructure.

Reducing shipping emissions is a vital component of the fight against global climate change, yet Greenhouse Gas emissions from the global maritime sector are increasing - and at odds with the IMO's strategy to cut absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050. 

How more than 70,000 ships can decrease their reliance on carbon-based sources is one of transport's most pressing decarbonisation challenges.

Yara and Trafigura intend to collaborate on initiatives that will establish themselves in the clean ammonia value chain. Under the MoU announced today, Trafigura and Yara intend to work together in the following areas:

  • The supply of clean ammonia by Yara to Trafigura Group companies
  • Exploration of joint R&D initiatives for clean ammonia application as a marine fuel
  • Development of new clean ammonia assets including marine fuel infrastructure and market opportunities

Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, President of Yara Clean Ammonia, said the agreement is a good example of cross-industry collaboration to develop and promote zero-emission fuel in the form of clean ammonia for the shipping industry. "Building clean ammonia value chains is critical to facilitate the transition to zero emission fuels by enabling the hydrogen economy – not least within trade and distribution where both Yara and Trafigura have leading capabilities. Demand and supply of clean ammonia need to be developed in tandem," he said.  

There is a growing consensus that hydrogen-based fuels will ultimately be the shipping fuels of the future, but clear and comprehensive regulation is essential, according to Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director and Co-Head of Oil Trading for Trafigura.

Ammonia has a number of properties that require "further investigation," according to Wartsila. "It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process," it notes.

Trafigura has co-sponsored the R&D of MAN Energy Solutions’ ammonia-fuelled engine for maritime vessels, has performed in-depth studies of transport fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has published a white paper on the need for a global carbon levy for shipping fuels to be introduced by International Maritime Organization.

Oslo-based Yara produces roughly 8.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually and employs a fleet of 11 ammonia carriers, including 5 fully owned ships, and owns 18 marine ammonia terminals with 580 kt of storage capacity – enabling it to produce and deliver ammonia across the globe.

It recently established a new clean ammonia unit to capture growth opportunities in emission-free fuel for shipping and power, carbon-free fertilizer and ammonia for industrial applications.

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