New Zealand charges ahead with world’s largest virtual power plant

solarcity today started hooking up more than 3000 existing home solar and battery systems to the national grid to create the world’s largest virtual power plant.

The project will create a generation and storage network that will help provide energy to the power grid when it is unable to cope with demand or there is a fault.

“Australia says it plans to build the world’s largest virtual power station but we’re actually doing it now with our existing systems and we’re adding more every day,” said solarcity CEO Andrew Booth.

“We’re working alongside communities to ensure New Zealand’s energy system is affordable, resilient and secure, as we transition to the next generation of energy technologies.”

“We’re investing in new technologies that will help create jobs, attract investment in renewable energy and bring down power prices for all New Zealanders.”

solarcity’s existing solar customers already generate 13.6 GWh of energy. With batteries those systems will collectively store 18 MWh of power and stop 2,230 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere every year.

The virtual power station project was formally announced today by Hon James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change, at solarcity’s Gig for Good in Auckland.

"We have cemented our position as one of the world’s leading hubs for renewable energy. This is an example of Kiwi innovation at its best, world leading battery technology backed by a smart green financing mechanism lowering energy bills for our communities, and delivering on a cleaner, green energy future for our nation,” he said.

The virtual power plant will make energy available to Transpower’s Demand Response Programme and participating customers will be paid.

Transpower chief executive Alison Andrew welcomed the initiative. “It’s an exciting first to include battery systems of this scale within our Demand Response Programme,” she said.

“This is beneficial because consumers can have more control over their energy use and when they use it. The more people who participate, the more we can reduce the overall peak demand on the grid.”

“Te Mauri Hiko forecasts a doubling of electricity demand by 2050. Demand response initiatives will be one tool that will help the transition to a cleaner, low carbon energy future.”