Ground-breaking renewable energy trial encouraging participation

Alice Springs Future Grid

Nov 2021

The Alice Springs Future Grid project is creating the Northern Territory’s first residential Virtual Power Plant (VPP). The VPP trial, named Solar Connect, is the most prominent public-facing activity of the Future Grid project, intended to run for up to a year.

Type: Media release Future Grid publication   Format: PDF

Ground-break­ing renew­able ener­gy tri­al encour­ag­ing participation

House­hold­ers in Alice Springs who have rooftop solar PV or a solar bat­tery, or intend to install these tech­nolo­gies in the next few months, are invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate in a ground-break­ing tech­nol­o­gy trial.

The Alice Springs Future Grid project is cre­at­ing the North­ern Territory’s first res­i­den­tial Vir­tu­al Pow­er Plant (VPP). The VPP tri­al, named Solar Con­nect, is the most promi­nent pub­lic-fac­ing activ­i­ty of the Future Grid project, intend­ed to run for up to a year. 

A VPP is typ­i­cal­ly a col­lec­tion of solar and bat­tery stor­age sys­tems that work togeth­er to pro­vide a sin­gle source of ener­gy. VPPs use smart tech­nol­o­gy to con­trol the ener­gy flow to and from the grid on demand. They are already in use across Aus­tralia and the world, with notable exam­ples in South Aus­tralia (Tes­la) and West­ern Aus­tralia (Hori­zon Power). 

Alice Springs res­i­dents can now express their inter­est in tak­ing part, with finan­cial incen­tives (lim­it­ed offer) avail­able for those who fill in the online form and are suc­cess­ful­ly recruit­ed to Solar Connect. 

Solar Con­nect is one of a series of inno­v­a­tive tri­als, mod­els and inves­ti­ga­tions which will inform design of a path­way towards our town reach­ing the North­ern Territory’s renew­able ener­gy tar­get of 50 per cent by 2030, and beyond. Local enthu­si­asm for rooftop solar is dri­ving the urgency to iden­ti­fy and over­come bar­ri­ers to inte­grat­ing increas­ing amounts of renew­able energy. 

Future Grid Project Direc­tor Lyn­don Frear­son, from Alice Springs engi­neer­ing firm Ekisti­ca explained:

The Alice Springs elec­tric­i­ty sys­tem is an iso­lat­ed grid, which exac­er­bates the chal­lenges of bal­anc­ing renew­able ener­gy with tra­di­tion­al forms of pow­er gen­er­a­tion,” Mr Frear­son said. 

The North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry also has mul­ti­ple stake­hold­ers involved in the gen­er­a­tion and sup­ply of pow­er, so a sig­nif­i­cant col­lab­o­ra­tive effort across Future Grid Project Part­ners was required to design and deliv­er the VPP,” he said. 

The Solar Con­nect VPP tri­al is a tan­gi­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty for the com­mu­ni­ty to play a role in our town’s clean ener­gy transition.”

The North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Min­is­ter for Renew­ables and Ener­gy, Eva Lawler, praised the tri­al and urged Ter­ri­to­ri­ans to get involved.

The Ter­ri­to­ry Labor Gov­ern­ment wants all Ter­ri­to­ri­ans to have access to the lat­est and best tech­nol­o­gy, as we build a stronger and more resilient pow­er sys­tem for house­holds and busi­ness­es,” Min­is­ter Lawler said.

It’s fan­tas­tic to see inno­va­tion at work, remov­ing bar­ri­ers to fur­ther renew­able ener­gy uptake in the Alice Springs pow­er sys­tem as we con­tin­ue work­ing towards our tar­get of 50% renew­ables by 2030.

I encour­age Alice Springs res­i­dents to take part in this tri­al and help guide our path to a green­er future in the Territory.” 

Project deliv­ery is coor­di­nat­ed by the Intyal­heme Cen­tre for Future Ener­gy, on behalf of Desert Knowl­edge Aus­tralia (DKA). Project Part­ners involved in Solar Con­nect include Jacana Ener­gy, the Arid Lands Envi­ron­ment Cen­tre, Pow­er and Water Cor­po­ra­tion and Ekisti­ca. The Future Grid project is sup­port­ed by the Aus­tralian Renew­able Ener­gy Agency (ARE­NA), the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment and the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Government. 

Alice Springs res­i­dents can view tri­al offers and incen­tives and a full list of eli­gi­bil­i­ty cri­te­ria online at www​.alice​springs​fu​ture​grid​.com​.au/vpp or by call­ing 1800 ALICE VPP (1800 254 238).