The Australian Government and Western Australian Government are supporting a pilot project in Perth to find ways to make the most of household solar and battery assets to deliver maximum benefits to customers and the grid.
Project Symphony will involve 500 households and businesses, and their 900 distributed energy resources assets, operating as a virtual power plant in Perth’s Southern River area.
The two-year trial will work out how distributed energy resources can best benefit electricity customers, participating in a future energy market, and the power network.
The Morrison Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is contributing $8.6 million to the $35.5 million project, which is a partnership between Western Power, Synergy, Energy Policy WA and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
The McGowan Labor Government has invested $19.3 million and AEMO $7.6 million.
Synergy has begun recruiting eligible customers for the trial, which is expected to run until June 2023.
Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the project was important to help understand how rooftop solar and batteries could be centrally orchestrated to balance broad-scale electricity supply.
“Australians are embracing rooftop solar at a record rate. The uptake of solar energy is particularly strong in Western Australia, where more than 1.8 gigawatts of small-scale solar have been installed by households and businesses, and where around one in three homes now have rooftop solar,” Minister Taylor said.
“As this continues to grow, it is crucial to understand how solar and batteries can work to lower costs for all electricity customers and strengthen electricity networks, rather than detract from reliability.”
Senator for WA Matt O’Sullivan said this is an exciting project for the State, with Western Australians continuing to install rooftop solar at record rates.
“This funding will help us secure and strengthen our power networks as locals continue to embrace new sources of electricity,” Senator O’Sullivan said.
“It also ensures Western Australia is leading the way, future proofing our power network as we continue to embrace non-traditional electricity and distributed energy resources.”
WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston said Project Symphony will pave the way for the future of WA’s sustainable electricity sector.
“Virtual Power Plants could be the future for electricity in WA,” Minister Johnston said.
“We currently have power stations, at the edge of our networks, with lots of wires carrying high voltages hundreds of kilometres.
“But in the future, houses will become the power station through their rooftop solar.
“Project Symphony will test how increased access to renewables can benefit communities and is a major deliverable of the Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap.
“Importantly, the trial will ensure that WA homes and businesses receive affordable, safe and reliable power.”
Member for Jandakot Yaz Mubarakai said it was an exciting announcement for the Southern River area.
“Around 500 homes and businesses will be invited to participate in Piara Waters and Harrisdale, where 50 per cent of households have embraced rooftop solar.
“Project Symphony will demonstrate how increased access to renewables can benefit communities throughout Western Australia.”
This project builds on earlier Morrison Government funding to support reliable and affordable power in Western Australia.
This includes $28.5 million to fund a Big Battery in the South West Interconnected System, and funding to extend Western Australia’s microgrid program to more regional and remote towns, including mining and Indigenous communities.