Tesla Building 250MW "Virtual Solar Power Plant" Using 50,000 Homes In Australia

After building the world's largest lithium battery in Australia nearly 40 days ahead of schedule, Tesla has announced plans to build the world's largest "virtual power plant" by outfitting 50,000 homes in South Australia with solar panels and Tesla battery storage units over the next four years, slashing participants' energy bill by 30%.

Beginning with a trial of 1100 Housing Trust properties, a 5kW solar panel system and 13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery will be installed at no charge to the household and financed through the sale of electricity.

Following the trial, which has now commenced, systems are set to be installed at a further 24,000 Housing Trust properties, and then a similar deal offered to all South Australian households, with a plan for at least 50,000 households to participate over the next four years. -ourenergyplan.sa.gov.au

Over 6,500 households have already applied for the 250MW program (which will provide the panels for free), tweeted South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill on Monday.

The AUD$32 million ($25 million USD) project bankrolled by taxpayers and a state-funded techonlogy grant will be recovered by selling the electricity to customers on the grid. “We will use people’s homes as a way to generate energy for the South Australian grid, with participating households benefiting with significant savings in their energy bills,” says South Australia’s premier Jay Weatherill. “More renewable energy means cheaper power for all South Australians.”

Price predicts utility bills for participating households will be slashed by 30%. The installations will begin with 100 households in a low-income housing community. Those systems should be completed by the end of June. Then another 1,000 systems will be installed in similar properties by the end of the year.

After that, another 24,000 Housing Trust residents will be offered the opportunity to join the program, followed by 25,000 more households over the next 4 years. Minister for Social Housing Zoe Bettison said the decision to install the systems in Housing Trust homes would assist the most vulnerable. “We know that people in social housing can often struggle meeting their everyday needs and this initiative will take some pressure off their household budget,” she said. -cleantechnica.com

South Australia's 1.7 million residents regularly suffer power outages and energy reductions, with several major incidents leaving people without power following storms and a massive heat wave. 

Off to a good start

Tesla's lithium battery storage project has already proven its worth; after the 129 MWh installation was activated on December 2, the Loy Yang coal power plant - one of the largest in Australia, went offline - depriving the grid of 560 MW of electricity, enough for 170,000 homes. Within 140 milliseconds, the Tesla "Hornsdale Power Reserve Battery System" kicked in, providing the grid with 100 MW of power - buying grid operators enough time to reroute other power sources and make up for the shortfall. Utility customers were largely unaffected. 

That’s a record and the national operators were shocked at how quickly and efficiently the battery was able to deliver this type of energy into the market," said State energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis, who added "Until now, if we got a call to turn on our emergency generators it would take us 10 to 15 minutes to get them fired up and operating which is a record time compared to other generators.”


ACP JuliaS Thu, 02/08/2018 - 01:20 Permalink

The AUD$32 million ($25 million USD) project bankrolled by taxpayers and a state-funded techonlogy grant will be recovered by selling the electricity to customers on the grid.

Wow, so Tesla gets taxpayer money to create this thing, then pays back the grant using...taxpayer money. Genius!

So, when the panels wear out, who pays, Tesla or the taxpayers again?

Another question...when you sell your "grid house" does Tesla still retain "energy rights" to your house, over and above the new owners?

In reply to by JuliaS

Itch ACP Thu, 02/08/2018 - 12:48 Permalink

Thats only a grant of $500 per home, the powerwall and panels costs about $3.5k, and there is a 10 year guarantee. So that's a minimum of $3000 from Tesla assuming the components last the duration.

If the average bill is $200 per month, it would take at least 16 years to pay off the remaining 3k, then Tesla is in profit. It's a good deal, I would take it myself.


" Another question...when you sell your "grid house" does Tesla still retain "energy rights" to your house, over and above the new owners? "

They most likely would, that's probably why they are targeting housing trusts: people move in and out, but the landlord stays the same.


In reply to by ACP

dasein211 just the tip Thu, 02/08/2018 - 01:11 Permalink

Nope. You guys aren’t thinking big enough. Your obsession to hating the “other side” is blinding you to the massive wave of technological change that’s coming. Add in a few molten salt solar field arrays and a couple windmills and you can fucking kiss coal and most gas powered plants goodbye. Saharan land is actually going to be bought up and used to fuel North Africa and Europe. Small minded people never see big change coming. 

In reply to by just the tip

One of these i… D503 Thu, 02/08/2018 - 06:09 Permalink

Take a 300watt panel. divide 300 down to 23% (you still have to do some work here)

that is the amount of watts available in 1 averaged hour hour. M ultiply by 24 then 52 and ya gots a years worth of output.

x 25 (the expected life of a solar panel) and you have your total power output in watts hours.

it's a LOT.

In reply to by D503

Donate Moar Ethelred the Unready Thu, 02/08/2018 - 09:53 Permalink

Industry standards hover around 17% efficiency for consumer applications.

For a non tracking panel in Central Florida, we can expect 6-8 hours of effective solar conversion.

So that 17% distributed across 24 hours (which is a useless metric) becomes 17/4 = 4.25%.

Think I need to remove "educating the masses" from my bucket list.

Elsewhere in my isolated world:

I fixed my truck by replacing the Mass Air Flow sensor (MAF) to the tune of $140, which is a great deal since I didn't need to have it towed and fixed by some careless underpaid mechanic. Many thanks to a friend that had a computer code scanner!


In reply to by Ethelred the Unready

OverTheHedge dasein211 Thu, 02/08/2018 - 01:22 Permalink

My understanding with that is that the amount of coverage over the desert would be so immense, it would have serious effects on weather patterns - but probably only for sub-Saharan poor people, so lets get cracking!

Of course, powering the whole of Europe from North Africa makes sense from a strategic / national defence viewpoint: what could possibly go wrong (hint: North Africa = Algeria, Morocco, Libya(!), Egypt, Israel(?) etc.)

In reply to by dasein211

trgfunds dasein211 Thu, 02/08/2018 - 01:29 Permalink

Actually, none of this change can be allowed. Elon is not a disruptor. He is a controlled opposition representation of false disruption. Any technology that amounts to free energy, benefit to the customer, benefit to the average person, etc. WILL NOT BE ALLOWED. Do you think this stuff is NEW??? This is ANCIENT TECHNOLOGY. Anyone allowed on your TV screen as much as Elon Musk is an ACTOR and was PUT THERE. All they can create are illusory advances in trivial things. (IE, your smart phone is now made from a different metal! It has a different glass panel! It has a slightly bigger camera!) Some new devices are even WORSE. They have gone BACKWARD. Every single thing in this economy is engineered waste, planned obsolescence, and controlled highly financialized advances on a drip line. All wars are contrived and represent the necessary inevitable reset to the process to keep us running on the treadmill, secure those in power, and ensure no actual progress is made (see, for example: Hitler's American Business Partners) All major media supports this narrative. And apparently you believe it. And it is very sad.

In reply to by dasein211

squid dasein211 Thu, 02/08/2018 - 09:16 Permalink

"Your obsession to hating the “other side” is blinding you to the massive wave of technological change that’s coming. "


So Elon musk by his mere presence of personality is going to lay to waste Newton's Laws and Maxwell's equations?

Sure he is.


I love hearing these proclamations from arts graduates that can nor more receipt Newton's laws nor spell Maxwell's name let alone know who either of them were.




In reply to by dasein211

adr Thu, 02/08/2018 - 00:59 Permalink

So in other words, putting solar panels on people's roofs paid for with taxpayer money.

Ok, how is this a "power plant"?

And wouldn't you know it, taxpayers paying for more of Elon's stunts to increase his stock based pay package.

dasein211 adr Thu, 02/08/2018 - 01:14 Permalink

It’s a plant because the houses are the array. That which isn’t used is stored on the batteries and drained when needed. This actually protects the grid from central failure. You small minded fucks never work this shit out in your heads. It’s not rocket science and it’ll produce more than is needed. 

In reply to by adr