File photo: Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk smiles as he participates in a forum about startups in Hong Kong, China, January 26, 2016. (REUTERS/Bobby Yip)
The state of South Australia has announced that it will create a network of thousands of solar-energy houses, with the help of Tesla, solar panels and Powerwall batteries, Reuters reports. The initial phases of the plan are already underway and will eventually expand to as many as 50,000 homes, the creation of the “world’s largest virtual power plant,” said premier Jay Weatherill.
“Our energy plan means that we are leading the world in renewable energy and now we are making it easier for more homes to become self-sufficient,” Weatherill said. “We will use people’s homes as a way to generate energy for the South Australian grid, with the participating households to benefit with significant savings on their energy bills.”
BREAKING: My Government has already delivered the world’s largest battery. We are now supplying the world’s largest Virtual power plant. #renewable #energy #solar #energy # storage #future pic.twitter.com/0JPAMogPOV
— Jay Weatherill (@JayWeatherill) February 4, 2018
Installation of the 5kW solar panels with Tesla batteries has already begun on the 1,100 public housing properties, with 24,000 more to follow. After that, the program will be opened up to as many as 50,000 South Australian homes for the next four years.
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The panels and batteries will be provided at no cost to homeowners, supported by a multi-million dollar grant and a loan of a taxpayer for renewable energy fund. The programme is financed by the sale of the excess energy that is generated by solar-energy grid.
South Australia is already home to the world’s largest battery, the result of a challenge of Elon Musk and Tesla. After a state-wide black-out in 2016, South Africa is looking to renewable energy as a way to their persistent energy shortages.
Although Australia is a world leader in the coal and gas production, the deterioration of coal-fired power plants to close, and factors such as an offshore drilling ban have raised questions about the future energy supply.
“At key moments, the virtual power plant can provide as much capacity as a large gas turbine or coal power plant,” Tesla said in a statement. The company added that the virtual power plant would produce 250 megawatts of solar energy and have 650-megawatt-hour capacity of the battery.
The government already has a registration website for Australians who want to be part of the program. “Virtual power plants families to take control of their power bills, while providing greater security for energy network,” said John Grimes of the Smart Energy Council.