South Australia has some of the highest electricity prices in the world as the country has long focused on coal as a primary power source for domestic consumption and exports to Asia. Also mired in a massive debt bubble that has driven up shelter costs far beyond wage gains, Aussie households have been increasingly taxed to afford utility costs and other expenses.
As recently covered by 60 Minutes Australia, this led Tesla’s Elon Musk to offer to build the largest grid storage battery installation in South Australia last year, saying that they could build the entire facility in 100 days or it would be free. It was completed in 60 days, and since then it has delivered as promised.
Now, Tesla and the government of South Australia have announced a plan to install rooftop solar systems on 50,000 homes in the next 4 years and link them them together with grid storage facilities to create the largest virtual solar power plant in history. See Tesla to construct virtual power plant using 50,000 homes in South Australia:
And here’s the kicker: The rooftop solar systems will be free. The cost of the project will be recouped over time by selling the electricity generated to those who consume it. “We will use people’s homes as a way to generate energy for the South Australian grid, with participating households benefiting with significant savings in their energy bills,” says South Australia’s premier Jay Weatherill. “More renewable energy means cheaper power for all South Australians.”
The government hired consulting firm Frontier Economics to examine the plan. “The biggest saving for consumers is that they don’t have to pay for as much network cost to deliver power to them because they’re generating their own power,” says managing director Danny Price. “In principle, it’s quite simple technology. It just requires a smart computer system to stitch it all together.”
Price predicts utility bills for participating households will be slashed by 30%. …but virtual solar power plants have benefits that go far beyond mere financials. Every kilowatt-hour that comes from the sun means one kilowatt-hour that is not associated with carbon emissions, nuclear waste, ruptured pipelines, or the horrors of pumping hazardous waste deep underground to unlock shale gas.
…With more virtual power plants, weaning the world off its fossil fuel addiction can become a reality.
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