We are excited to be part of the Northern Territory's first Virtual Power Plant (VPP)


The Solar Connect Virtual Power Project (VPP) trial was designed by the Alice Springs Future Grid partners, which includes the Arid Lands Environment Centre, Power and Water Corporation, Ekistica, Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA), and Jacana Energy. Our role in the project was to enrol customers in the trial, deliver benefits through innovative electricity tariffs, and assist participants throughout their VPP journey.  We also own and manage the VPP software, which underpinned the trial, and jointly operate it with Power and Water.

The active phase of the Solar Connect VPP trial commenced in October 2022, and concluded in November 2023, with two trials involving solar and battery, and solar-only households. Through these initiatives, the Alice Springs Future Project explored how a VPP can help to increase the amount of clean energy in the local power system while keeping the grid stable. 

For more information about the Alice Springs Future Grid project and the Solar Connect VPP trials, visit the Alice Springs Future Grid website or read the trial Terms and Conditions.


Frequently asked questions

A VPP is a cloud-based software that links renewable energy resources, such as solar PV systems and storage batteries, into a network where they work together as a single power source. In line with the Territory’s push to achieve 50% renewable energy by 2030, the Solar Connect VPP will look at how a virtual power plant can help keep the grid stable while increasing the amount of clean energy in the Alice Springs power system.

VPP Diagram

In the Solar Connect VPP trials, households with a residential PV system and a battery can take advantage of a new VPP electricity tariff. This tariff is time-based, with various electricity prices depending on when electricity is consumed or exported during the day/night. The charge and discharge cycle of the battery is programmed through the VPP, to be in line with the tariff.

Households with no battery can participate in a solar-only trial, where the export limit on their PV system will be adjusted dynamically to match the conditions on the grid, up to 24h in a month.

Households looking to upgrade and small businesses with larger systems can participate in a ‘Supersize’ trial where the export limit on their PV system will be adjusted up/down up to 7 days a month. In exchange for the service, these systems who are currently export-limited, will be permitted to export energy into the grid.

As more and more solar power is coming online and many of us take advantage of our sunny NT weather, we are creating a positive shift toward a more sustainable future.

However, this high uptake of solar is also creating challenges for our electricity grid, which has to keep up with fluctuating supply and demand for electricity, which can cause the power system to become unstable.

The solar PV uptake has driven a reduction in demand for electricity from the grid during the day. This is usually a time when solar rooftop production is high as the sun shines (and PV systems produce and export to the grid) yet electricity use is lower as most people are out of the house. As the sun goes down and people return home, almost everyone requires electricity, which has to be supplied from the grid.

Testing Virtual Power Plant technology and the battery trial tariff is one way that Jacana Energy, as part of Alice Springs Future Grid, is trying to find intelligent energy solutions to help address the challenges of fluctuating supply and demand.

The tariff is designed to reduce the amount of solar electricity fed into the grid at times when the demand is low, incentivising battery storage instead. The tariff also incentivises batteries to land a hand to the grid by discharging stored energy in the evening when the demand for electricity is high. This will result in electricity demand from the grid being smoother throughout the day, creating room for more renewable energy in the future without compromising grid stability.

If you have a small residential solar PV system ≤5kVA, your PV inverter will be controlled by the VPP for an equivalent of 1 day (24 hours) per month. During that time, the Power and Water System Controller will adjust the export limit on your solar system from 2 kW to 5 kW (single phase) or 7 kW (three phase).

If you have a system larger than 5kVA (single phase) and 7 kVA (three phase), you will be allowed to export up to 10kW (single phase) or 15 kW (three phase) of electricity into the grid on most days for the duration of the trial and a static 5kW post-trial. The Power and Water System Controller will test how your export limits can be varied dynamically using the VPP software, for an equivalent of up to 7 days per month.

Varying the export limits of your solar PV dynamically to match the conditions of the grid, is one way that we can help address the challenges of fluctuating supply and demand on the grid, helping the power system to remain stable which benefits us all.

The VPP trial results will be published on ARENA's website.


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