50 Alice Springs households are now taking part in the Northern Territory’s First Virtual Power Plant (VPP), launched last week by Northern Territory Minister for Renewables and Energy, Selena Uibo and Minister for Desert Knowledge Australia, Chansey Paech. Alice Springs Future Grid is a two year project leading efforts to reach 50% renewables by 2050.
The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) is the community-facing efforts to engage with solar and battery households in the Solar Connect Virtual Power Plant trial that will support the town’s transition to a clean energy future. The VPP is the key community-facing element of the Alice Springs Future Grid project, a collaborative project involving Jacana Energy, Power Water Corporation and being led by Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) and Ekistica. Technology for the VPP is provided by SwitchDin.
Alice Springs has long identified as a “Solar City”. But household batteries and Virtual Power Plants are seen as the next step for better integration of distributed energy resources with the electricity grid. This trial gives solar and solar-battery owners the chance to share their solar and battery power in ways that also benefit the electricity grid.
CEO of the ALEC, Adrian Tomlinson said, “ALEC has been advocating for healthy and sustainable futures in the arid lands for over 40 years.”
“In a town-wide survey conducted by Future Grid, 91% of people surveyed said they want to see more renewable energy used by our town’s electricity system, and community involvement is essential to making this a reality,” he said.
“ALEC is supporting the community to get involved in the energy transition and has engaged with households and installers to play a tangible role through Future Grid’s Solar Connect VPP trial.”
While there is still time to join the trial, applications will be accepted on a case-by-case basis
Future Grid Project Director Lyndon Frearson said lessons learnt through this trial will help inform the clean energy future of the NT. “In addition to Solar Connect demonstrating part of what a clean energy future might look like locally, industry from across Australia is keeping a close eye on what happens here on the Alice Springs grid,” Mr Frearson said.
ALEC is also leading a study to address the barriers to installing solar energy in low-income housing. A whole-of-community survey conducted at the start of the Future Grid project found 82 per cent of people agreed that renewables should be more accessible for renters, unit dwellers and those in Town Camps.
“We hope this research will bring us one step closer to ensuring that low socio-economic renters and those living in community housing in Alice Springs can access affordable and clean energy,” said Adrian.
Alice Springs Future Grid is supported by ARENA, the Australian Government, and the Northern Territory Government. More information can be found on the Future Grid website. www.alicespringsfuturegrid.com.au
Enquiries: [email protected] | 1800 ALICE VPP (1800 254 238)
Initial media release on project commencement https://alicespringsfuturegrid.com.au/knowledge-bank/solar-connect-vpp-launched