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Plans for world's largest virtual power plant announced in South Australia

The South Australian Government plans to again join forces with Tesla’s Elon Musk, with an announcement today that it will build the world’s largest virtual power plant across 50,000 homes in the state.

Virtual power plants work by drawing on a network of home battery systems to provide electricity for the power system at the times it is most needed.

With a state election looming, the second world-beating storage proposal follows the construction of the world’s largest lithium ion battery by Tesla next to Neoen’s Hornsdale 3 wind farm.

According to The Australian Financial Review, Tesla will be responsible for attracting investors to the $800 million project. The South Australian Government plans to fund the foundation of the plan through a $30 million loan via its Renewable Technology Fund and a $2 million initial grant.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said it is fantastic to see another pioneering energy storage project being launched in South Australia.

“What’s remarkable is that the project aims to improve the security of the power grid using renewable energy installed in Australian homes, while helping low-income households save on their power bills,” Mr Thornton said.

“It is expected that solar and storage in the 50,000 homes systems could produce 20 per cent of the state’s average daily power needs, drastically altering the way in which SA receives their power whilst also reducing its carbon footprint,” he said.

A trial of 100 low-income Housing Trust homes is already underway, which would be followed by another 1000 homes. If successful, solar and storage units would be rolled out to 25,000 low-income Housing Trust properties and another 25,000 homes from all walks of life.

The South Australian Liberal Party has previously announced a plan to subsidise batteries for 40,000 means-tested households at a cost of $100 million. The success of either plan will no doubt hinge on whoever wins the election on 17 March this year.