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One Step Off The Grid

South Australia household batteries keeps lights on in Queensland after coal unit fails

15 November 2019

The South Australia government and the Australian Energy Market Operator have hailed the success of the state’s solar and battery virtual power plant, after it came to the rescue during an unexpected coal power outage in Queensland last month.

AEMO said on Friday that on October 9, the South Australia VPP – which currently combines the stored solar resource of hundreds of homes with rooftop PV and storage – injected energy into the National Electricity Market (NEM) in response to a large generator outage in the Sunshine State.

The outage at Queensland’s Kogan Creek coal power station happened when the unit –  the biggest single unit in Australia – tripped, reducing supply by 784MW, and causing the power system to drop well below the normal level of system frequency.

The VPP detected the frequency drop and immediately injected power into the grid from residential batteries installed on SA Housing Trust properties across the state, contributing with other providers to return the system back to normal, said South Australia energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan in a separate statement.

“Although the Virtual Power Plant is in its early days, it is already demonstrating how it can provide the network support traditionally performed by large conventional generators,” the minister said.

The South Australian Virtual Power Plant, which has more than 900 systems installed so far, has been led by US battery and EV maker Tesla, with support from the South Australian government and energy retailer Energy Locals.

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