Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Renewable Energy Agency helps kick off Queensland’s ‘Virtual solar plant’

text-people-power-solar‘Virtual solar plant’ in home trial in Queensland August 6, 2015 Angela Macdonald-Smith  Californian electricity storage developer Sunverge Energy has forged an alliance with Ergon Energy for a limited commercial rollout of its power systems in Queensland homes, with at least two similar deals with other Australian partners expected to follow later this year.

The partnership with the Queensland utility, which also involves US-listed solar panel provider SunPower, will tap into keen interest in battery storage among households in Australia, partly thanks to the huge popularity of rooftop solar.

The deal announced on Thursday involves installing SunPower solar panels and Sunverge energy storage systems in 33 homes in Toowoomba, Townsville and Cannonvale in a program that will receive $400,000 of funding by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The Sunverge systems include back-up power, a six-kilowatt inverter with 11.6 kilowatt-hours of energy and a sophisticated communications and control capability that allows the utility to control and collectively manage them to increase the efficiency of power supply on its grid.

Ergon is also involved in a trial of Panasonic batteries, although that is understood to be a smaller-scale pilot exercise.

Sunverge chief executive Ken Munson said the technology involved in the Sunverge systems allowed a network to collectively control units to form a “virtual power plant”, which could instantaneously feed power into the grid when required.

The installation of the combined solar-battery packages should offer huge advantages for electricity network owners to improve efficiency, at the same time as giving customers more control over their own power consumption and use. The systems will also be tested for use in energy trading, releasing electricity into the grid when prices surge.

Mr Munson, a co-founder of Sunverge, said Australia’s high penetration of rooftop solar, where one in five homes use power from the sun, put the country at the forefront of the transforming energy industry.

Sunverge has also been working with a Victorian utility on a trial of its systems, with the alliance expected to be made public within weeks. A third tie-up is on the horizon with an independent retailer.

At the same time the Californian company is eyeing alliances with Australian property developers in what has already emerged as a major market segment in the US, involving the installation of solar and battery systems in new housing developments.

“We’re starting to get a lot of interest and engagement on that front,” Mr Munson said in an interview.

Sunverge, which linked with SunPower last year to offer their products to residential and utility customers in the US and Australia, is on Wednesday officially opening a new office in Australia, in Fortitude Valley. The Queensland government in May announced a commitment to generate 50 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2030

The local business is headed by Phil Keogan, a former head of energy sustainability and market development at Ergon.


August 7, 2015 - Posted by | Queensland, solar

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