Australian virtual power plant aggregates first package of residentially generated energy

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The pilot project combines rooftop solar, battery storage and appliances. Image: CSIRO.

A virtual power plant (VPP) pilot programme in Western Australia that aims to adapt grid management to support greater uptake of rooftop solar has aggregated its first package of residentially generated energy.

Focused on developing and operating distributed energy resources (DERs) within the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) in Perth, the pilot, dubbed Project Symphony, has also participated in a simulated bi-directional wholesale electricity market.

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The pilot reached a major milestone with the successful testing of the intelligent systems required to orchestrate 200kW of energy over a simulated bi-directional balancing market trading interval, according to Kate Ryan, executive general manager WA and strategy at the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

“This is the first step in realising the full capabilities of distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar, batteries and large appliances in supporting the energy transition to grids capable of handling 100% instantaneous penetration,” she said.

Announced last December, Project Symphony is being undertaken over two years by AEMO, electricity network provider Western Power and energy retailer Synergy.

The pilot combines rooftop solar, battery storage and appliances, such as air conditioning and pool pumps, that are orchestrated as a VPP to better understand how the innovative use of DERs can provide benefits to customer affordability and network security while also reducing emissions.

The aim is to demonstrate how the VPP can respond to challenges in the power system whilst also delivering more value to customers from their assets, enabling them to participate in current and future energy markets.

Funding of AU$35.5 million (US$25 million) for the project is going towards the development and integration of software that manages energy distribution, market operation and market aggregation. Together, these will underpin the monitoring and coordination of a high volume of mostly customer DER assets.

Project Symphony is now focused on integrating more customers and additional third-party aggregators, with the objective of orchestrating up to 900 DER assets across 500 homes and businesses.

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