Tesla and SA government sign deal to build 50,000-home virtual solar plant

By Addie Thomes

Elon Musk’s Tesla and the South Australian government have reached an agreement regarding the development of a giant solar plant.

In what is being termed the world’s largest virtual power plant, Tesla Powerwall 2 panels will be installed on 50,000 homes for free. The energy stored in these homes will be connected up to a central control system which will manage the flow of power.

Tesla has already opened the world’s largest battery in South Australia, a system designed to help avoid outages in peak periods.

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The new virtual power plant will effectively create a 250MW station, and Tesla says it can store up to 650MWh of energy.

To help get the project moving, the SA government is lending Tesla $30mn from its Renewable Technology Fund. It also predicts that energy bills for the 50,000 households could fall by as much as 30%.  

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said: “With the Tesla battery at Jamestown in place, the Port Augusta solar thermal plant under development and now the world’s largest Virtual Power Plant announced, South Australia is leading the way in the storage of renewable energy.

“This is a booming global industry and we want as many jobs in this sector as possible created here in South Australia.”

Around 500 jobs will be created during the installation and manufacturing process, with an agreement in place to use local contractors throughout the project.

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