Plico Team 30/10/2023 11 min read

Record solar supply springs Virtual Power Plant into action

We are working together with Synergy to activate WA’s first minimum demand Virtual Power Plant (VPP) to manage record levels of solar supply during low demand periods, in an effort to stablise WA’s main energy grid and prevent blackouts. 

A VPP is a network of distributed energy resources (DER), in our case household solar + battery and battery only systems, that is managed remotely to generate, store and transfer energy to and from the grid. VPPs can increase or decrease energy supply to the grid almost instantly, providing a flexible, cost-effective and clean energy solution. 

Earlier than expected spring sunshine has achieved two new records for WA with rooftop solar generation hitting a record of 76.3% of total supply, while demand bottomed out at 595.1 MW just after midday on the public holiday of the 25 September, according to AEMO

Plico CEO, Mr Robbie Campbell said while it’s excellent to see record highs of solar supplying energy to households, businesses and our grid; unmanaged oversupply causes significant grid challenges.

“Minimum demand is when there is low demand for energy drawn from the grid (i.e. minimum demand) but solar energy supply to the grid is high.  Many are unaware that this potentially causes similar issues (blackouts) when the opposite happens – lots of demand or usage and low supply.  Both situations are not good for WA homes,” he said. 

“Previously, our VPP was activated to manage peak demand when supply was low. Now we will activate in the opposite situation, all with the end outcome of supporting the grid to help avoid blackouts,” he added. 

During an activation, Plico alongside Synergy Solar Rewards customers’ solar PV systems are switched off from 10am to 2pm to reduce supply to the grid. To increase demand on the grid, Plico solar batteries are charged from the grid and Plico members are encouraged to increase energy use during an activation.

Together Plico and Synergy are supporting the grid to proactively manage supply and demand over the next 12 months, this time creating another historic first by turning on the state’s first minimum demand VPP. 

The Plico fleet has committed to provide 4 MW in grid support over four hours from its 1,600 customers (through reduced supply for minimum demand) and Synergy has committed to provide additional MWs through its Solar Rewards program, consisting of 2,600 customers. 

Plico CEO, Mr Robbie Campbell said the last thing anyone wants are households without power. 

“Energy fluctuations are significantly challenging in maintaining a stable and reliable grid, so to avoid disruptions to homes during such events, we‘ve developed a minimum demand solution with Synergy,” Mr Campbell said. 

“We look after our Plico customers who receive a one-off VPP Bonus of up to $100. Plico customers also receive a credit on their Synergy bill for the energy they use during activations. So, it’s a win for our forward-thinking customers, a win for the state, and our planet,” he said. 

Plico CEO Robbie Campbell

Plico CEO Robbie Campbell

The Plico VPP was activated in January and February 2023 to provide additional energy in high demand periods, which is the opposite of a minimum demand activation.   

“The VPP worked as it was designed to, providing additional power to offset the high household demand that would have otherwise strained the grid. Now we plan on stabilising the grid by doing the opposite, which truly demonstrates the power of a VPP as a future solution to grid stabilisation and as a blackout prevention,” he said. 

“Solar owners can support the grid by being part of a VPP and pairing their rooftop solar panels with a battery storage system.” 

The Plico VPP uses cutting edge technology to manage the VPP, including the Amp X digital monitoring platform to monitor, control and dispatch of Plico systems during a VPP activation.

Find out more about the Plico Virtual Power Plant here


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