The need for the entire Alice Springs Future Grid project is broadly driven by the actions of the Alice Springs community; particularly residents’ consistent enthusiasm for rooftop solar. This sub-project recognises the enormous influence that the choices of households and local businesses have on the generation mix. Batteries will play a vital role in supporting further renewable energy penetration into the Alice Springs grid.
To develop an understanding of the local appetite to install batteries with new, or existing, rooftop solar systems, a whole-of-community survey was conducted at the start of the Alice Springs Future Grid project. The results will partially inform the behavioural study within the Modelling sub-project, help to shape community engagement and education activities during Future Grid, and provide a means of measuring the project’s impact when the survey is repeated in 2022.
Households which meet technical and other project selection criteria will be offered the opportunity to join a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). The VPP is planned to be the first in the Northern Territory. It will aggregate household batteries to deliver services for power system operation. The services and the value of those services, which the VPP is able to offer to System Control, will be explored. This can only be possible with strong community participation, and will be implemented in parallel to sub-project 4 (Tariff Reform) to test how retail tariffs can affect consumer behaviour.
The flagship VPP will consist of two configurations, with slightly differing aims: “Future Grid Solar Hub” and “Future Grid Solar Connect”. The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) is the project lead and is also responsible for community engagement across the Future Grid project.