We are combining innovation and technology to create alternative solutions to traditional approaches to meet an ever-increasing demand for electricity. A Virtual Power Plant (VPP) integrates solar-generated energy into a new, more sustainable energy management system that is both decentralised and democratised. A VPP combines multiple home solar and battery systems to act as a conventional power plant, using a centralised control centre that co-ordinates various sources of generation through cloud-based software. Powerclub and Power Ledger's VPP Project gives participants enhanced ability to exploit the electricity market to gain revenue from fluctuations in wholesale energy prices and Powerclub's no-profit processes. Additionally, combining solar and battery technology substantially lowers households CO2 emissions while pushing renewable energy to the grid during periods of peak demand. It's a win-win for Members and the environment.
How smart-grid technology can benefit you
Export your net Solar during periods of peak demand to increase your revenue
Power Ledger’s technology, combined with Powerclub’s no-profit processes allows participating households to effectively trade electricity.
South Australian's can access up to A$5,000 discount on solar and battery installations
South Australian households may be able to access up to $4,500 in the states battery subsidy scheme PLUS the first 20 Members to sign up to the pilot will receive a further $500 discount.
Help slow climate change
Energy generation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, with 72% of our electricity being produced by coal-burning power stations. As the VPP grows, your net solar will supplement the grid during peak periods of demand which will begin to alleviate pressure on the network and reduce Australia’s carbon footprint from fossil fuels.
The sun is a powerful electricity source with just one hour of sunlight providing enough energy to meet global needs for a year. Unfortunately, we don't have the technology to harness all this energy yet, but installing solar panels and battery technology at your home will go a long way for our planet, and your pocket.
Currently, energy generation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, with 72% of our electricity being produced by coal-burning power stations. Unlike coal, gas and diesel, solar energy can be harnessed all over the world and has an endless supply. By investing in solar panels and battery technology, homeowners can generate a renewable source of energy to supplement their household needs, while reducing their electricity bill and adding value to their home.
Making it as cost-effective as possible
Power Ledger and Powerclub have teamed up with sonnen and Natural Solar to launch the Virtual Power Plant Pilot in South Australia to test small-scale implementation of our VPP technology in a real market environment. To celebrate the launch of our Pilot, we have created the most cost-effective pricing structure - and threw in a few extras for the first 20 participants of the program!
Natural Solar has created a special discounted price for your solar and battery installation (potentially saving you hundreds of dollars).
Your solar and battery installation may be eligible for up to $4,500 in South Australian government grants.
The first 20 Members to sign up to the pilot will receive a further $500 discount from Power Ledger.
Powerclub will cover your first year's residential membership and $250 towards your Powerbank contribution. Your Powerbank is used to smooth wholesale market fluctuations so you can pay a low, fixed-rate per kWh and is calculated based on your unique usage consumption.
Participation is easy!
Step 1: Install your solar and battery system
You will need a 6 kW solar system and a 10 kWh sonnen battery to participate in the VPP Pilot. In this first release of the program, the VPP will only support sonnen batteries; however, we are developing the technology to enable all battery owners to participate.
Step 2: Upgrade to a Smart Meter
To participate in a VPP, you will need a Smart Meter. Smart Meter technology is remotely read and measures how much electricity you use or export every 30 minutes. To ensure you gain the best return for your solar exports, we need to track them against the 30-minute market price.
Step 3: Join the Club
Powerclub saves you money by providing access to electricity at wholesale prices. We don’t profit from your usage, and we exist solely for the benefit of our Members. We’re the Club bringing the community together with a better way to buy, sell and use energy.
To assess your eligibility for the Pilot Program, please complete the Expression of Interest. If you don’t have solar and battery technology at your home, Natural Solar, Australia’s leading and largest solar and battery installer, will contact you to begin the installation process.
To participate in this VPP, Natural Solar will install your 6kW Canadian Solar system and 10kWh sonnen battery. Canadian Solar is one of the biggest solar companies in the world and is dedicated to continuous improvement with a team of more than 250 scientists, engineers and technicians. This technology, in conjunction with sonnenBatteries, creates an intelligent, long-lasting and economical solution for your energy future. What will it cost me?
Powerclub, Power Ledger, Natural Solar and sonnen batteries have created an all-inclusive price based on solar + battery or just battery.
Once your VPP infrastructure is installed, and your meter has been upgraded, Powerclub’s Member Advocate Team will get in touch to transfer you to Powerclub.
As a Member of Powerclub, you will gain access to wholesale electricity prices, charges and operational expenses at cost, so you only pay for the energy you use, the services you get and nothing more. To support our operational costs, we include 28.6c incl GST in the daily Supply Charge and 0.836c incl GST (less than one cent) per kWh used. Your Powerclub Plan will be, on average, 30% cheaper than the AER reference price based on general usage in the SA Power Network.
Powerclub pays the wholesale value of your solar exports. You will receive a competitive solar feed-in-tariff (FiT), and at the end of the year, we’ll review your actual wholesale export value. If it’s higher, which we expect it to be, we’ll pay you the difference.
The VPP platform is expected to launch in early 2020. There will be a fee to use Power Ledger's platform that manages your battery and the wholesale trading of the VPP. Powerclub passes on the direct costs we incur which are 27.5c per day, including GST, which will be a small part of what you make by participating in the VPP.
How much value can you expect from participating in the VPP?
We expect the total benefit, including savings from Powerclub's wholesale rates and solar Feed-in-Tariff, your decreased consumption and benefits from VPP events to be between $2,500 - $3,000 per year, based on consumption of about 25kWh/day. Depending on your unique usage pattern and circumstances in the wholesale market, we anticipate it will take between 6 - 9 years to pay back your solar and battery investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a VPP?
VPP stands for Virtual Power Plant and is created by a network of home solar panels and battery storage systems all working together to generate, store and feed energy back to the grid. The combined battery is used as a generator to supply power to the network when it is most profitable to do so — such as when wholesale energy prices rise to meet peak demand periods.
You may have heard of Tesla’s “big battery” in South Australia which boasts a capacity of over 100 MWh per year – enough electricity to power 20 average homes for a year. The partnership between Powerclub and Power Ledger will create an even bigger battery than Tesla’s by consolidating several thousand individual batteries into one VPP.
What is the benefit of participating in this VPP Pilot?
Traditionally, energy companies may offer standard payments or incentives ahead of time when they foresee a spike in demand. Still, these don’t consider the actual energy contribution customers are making or likely to make.
Under the current system, energy consumers are subject to additional hidden costs and mark-ups by the electricity retailer to cover supply costs. Powerclub Members who invest in solar and battery storage and participate in the VPP have real-time access to leverage the wholesale market. These significant advances in technology are furthering the home battery storage market and swiftly setting the standard for households in Australia.
Participating in a VPP means that there is a much better utilisation of overall community resources. It will reduce the need for external generation (especially from dirty sources such as coal and diesel), and it will assist the transition to green energy with the financial benefits remaining within the community.
How much can I save per year?
As a Powerclub Member participating in the community VPP, you will earn money every time it is used to support the energy grid or when it exports at times when wholesale energy is more valuable. Wholesale energy prices vary depending on supply and demand and generally peaks in the morning, and between 4 pm – 8 pm. By exporting stored energy at peak times, we estimate that the average participant will earn between $250 - $500 per year depending on individual usage. We expect the total benefit, including savings from Powerclub's wholesale rates and solar Feed-in-Tariff, your decreased consumption and profits from VPP events to be between $2,500 - $3,000 per year based on daily usage of about 25kWh.
Each participant’s returns will be slightly different depending on how much spare battery capacity they have at the time of export. Members with lower usage are more likely to have additional capacity and may, therefore, gain higher returns. Powerclub values a fair system which is why each household or business gets rewarded in direct proportion to their participation.
How long will it take me to pay off my solar and battery investment?
Depending on your unique usage pattern and circumstances in the wholesale market, we anticipate it will take between 6 - 9 years to pay back your solar and battery investment.
What are the environmental benefits?
Wholesale energy prices fluctuate with supply and demand. As demand increases in the morning and afternoon, additional generation is required to meet that demand, which comes at a higher price.
VPP participants with solar and battery systems will be able to export their stored electricity during peak demand periods to flood the grid with clean solar energy, therefore reducing the need for excess coal, gas and diesel generation.
As the grid receives green energy during periods of peak demand via battery storage, the need for brown and black coal is significantly reduced. It also starts to eliminate the need for gas and high emission diesel generation during short periods of peak demand.
Using solar generation and battery storage to supply green energy to yourself and your community means your providing another source of zero-emission electricity to the grid.
What do I need to participate in the VPP?
You will have to have a 6 kW solar system and 10 kWh battery system with a compatible Distributed Energy Resources Management System or ‘DERMS’. As part of this installation, your electricity meter will be upgraded to a Smart Meter.
In this first release of Power Ledger and Powerclub's VPP Pilot, we will only support sonnenBatteries; however, we are investigating what is required to enable all battery owners to participate, so all Members of Powerclub can benefit.
Once your solar and battery systems are installed, and you have been upgraded to a Smart Meter, you will be ready to join the Powerclub VPP. In addition to the benefits of the VPP, Powerclub membership saves you money by providing access to electricity at wholesale prices. We don’t profit from your usage, and we exist solely for the benefit of our Members.
I already have a battery and solar can I participate?
If you already have a compliant sonnenBatteries system, you will be able to participate. If you have a different battery system, we will place your name on our register and notify you when the technology is extended to include other batteries.
I already have solar and need to get a battery, can I participate?
If you already have a 6kW solar system, we can install a sonnenBattery system and you will able to participate in our VPP.
What if I change my mind and want to opt out?
Before you decide to proceed, Natural Solar will advise you of the refund policy before installation of battery and possibly solar panels. Once your solar and battery system is installed, you have the flexibility to opt-out of the VPP pilot. Your contract with Natural Solar will remain, and they will manage any outstanding payments required for the installation.
As your new energy retailer, Powerclub doesn't have lock-in contracts. If you want to opt-out, you can exit at any time. Your annual membership is non-refundable, as Powerclub paid the first year on your behalf. Typically your Powerbank balance is fully refundable if you choose to leave Powerclub. However, under this special VPP Pilot offer, if you transfer to another retailer within the first two years, Powerclub will retain the $250 contributed to your Powerbank on your behalf. Your Powerbank is designed to grow over time to maximise the coverage you receive from it. Once you've been a Member with Powerclub for at least two years, the Powerbank becomes yours and will be refunded in full if you choose to leave.
When will the VPP technology be available?
Powerclub and Power Ledger are working on integrating the platforms into as quickly as possible; however, this is expected to take a month or two to finalise. We hope to make this available to our Members early in 2020.
How does VPP technology work?
Power Ledger’s VPP product is an end to end solution, providing integration to the Distributed Energy Resources Management System (DERMS) layer which facilitates the physical dispatch of electricity, as well as the financial layer which supports daily reconciliation and settlement. Our system will respond to signals received from the market or from a network operator and send the requisite commands to optimise and orchestrate the portfolio of distributed assets.
Power Ledger’s VPP platform provides a real-time transactive financial layer. Self-executing smart contracts integrate with system controls, creating an autonomous, energy market with secure value transfer between customers, networks and market participants. Blockchain is the technology which essentially connects a financial transaction to a physical transaction of energy, and ensures all participants are paid for the services they provide.
Utilising blockchain additionally opens the possibility for a cross-retailer VPP ecosystem and settlement system, where the financial transaction is pinned to the physical transaction, regardless of who the energy provider is. If we enable this type of interaction between VPPs across networks, we can build an economic framework and marketplace where owners of solar and batteries are incentivised to keep supporting the overarching system, rather than defecting from the grid altogether.
In the future, a household with battery storage could have their system automatically set up to dispatch their stored energy during a peak event in the National Energy Market (NEM) and be instantly paid for it. Blockchain can mitigate the risk of a single party controlling the central repository of sensitive information, as would be required if using traditional database technologies.