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It’s no secret that Western Australia is one of the sunniest places in the world. What is less widely known is that WA is also emerging as a key location for exploring the world’s leading energy technology.

WA has come a long way from relying on traditional electricity sources to power our state. At Synergy, we’re working with a range of partners, including our State Government, to explore cleaner, smarter and more efficient ways to make, use, store and trade energy. Many Western Australians might be amazed to know about just some of the energy innovation happening in our own backyard right now.

 

WA’s first Virtual Power Plant 

Working with the State Government to find energy solutions for WA’s future energy needs, Synergy and a range of partners are currently exploring how virtual power plants (or VPPs) could be used in WA. This exploration has been officially launched with the VPP for Schools Pilot.

A VPP is a network of distributed energy resources such as solar PV, batteries and electric vehicles, which are aggregated and dispatched based on demand, providing the same services to the electricity system as a traditional power plant.  

This pilot project is an exciting opportunity to transform WA schools into smart, green and flexible VPPs. The project aims to explore how to create more value for energy system security and sustainability. At the same time, we could be able to help schools to find new ways to manage their electricity consumption and provide some engaging educational opportunities too.

An Australian-first energy trial

PowerBank is an energy storage initiative managed by Synergy and Western Power that has been trialled in a number of pilots. The trial marked the first time in Australia that a utility-scale battery has been integrated into an established major metropolitan network, providing an alternative storage option for residents.

Following the success of the initial pilot in Meadow Springs in 2018, subsequent versions of the trial have been offered across other areas of the Peel region and Perth metropolitan area.

A range of Synergy customers, such Jason from Meadow Springs, are excited about the opportunity to participate in the PowerBank trial. “We did look at getting a battery for our solar panels but the price was quite prohibitive,” he said. “I received an email from Synergy asking me if I was interested in joining the trial. I didn’t even finish reading the email and I’d pressed yes!”.

Energy innovation at Alkimos Beach

Every property in Alkimos Beach, in Perth’s northern suburbs, has a solar PV system size of 1.5KW or higher. This makes it an area with a high concentration of solar.  As part of an energy trial in this area, a community-size Lithium Ion energy storage device (known as a CESD) was installed in 2016 to store the excess solar energy generated. 

The trial at Alkimos Beach has now finished and the results have been extremely encouraging. Over the five years of the trial, participants saved more than $76,000* from their collective electricity bills. Community batteries can offer the benefits of solar and battery storage to the wider community – and they could play a bigger role in WA's future energy mix.

* Savings represented are approximate only and calculated by comparing the costs incurred by all trial participants on the Peak Demand Saver Plan to the costs they would have incurred on the standard Home Plan (A1) for the same period. 

Energy tech starts at home

On a much smaller scale, energy technology starts at home. Renewable energy products, using apps and smart technology to manage energy use and the rollout of advanced metering across the network are other examples of how WA is embracing new energy technology. 

Our intelligent energy future is already here. Everything we learn on both an individual level and from innovative projects like these helps us prepare for the next phase of our changing energy landscape.

Find out more about these trials.