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Virtual Power Plants (or VPPs) have the potential to play a major role in WA’s energy future, which is why we’ve launched the Schools VPP Pilot Project with the State Government and Department of Education.

The Schools VPP Pilot Project is an exciting opportunity to transform WA schools into smart and flexible VPPs to optimise renewable energy sources.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • A VPP is a network of distributed energy resources (DER) such as solar PV, batteries and electric vehicles, that are ‘aggregated’ and dispatched based on demand to provide the same services to the electricity system as a traditional power plant.
  • A VPP can help keep supply and demand for electricity in balance for everyone’s benefit.
  • VPPs could mean there is less need for large-scale generation assets such as a coal or gas power station and long-distance electricity distribution networks transporting energy to households and businesses in the future. This is an important step towards a more sustainable future.
  • 17 schools will be participating in the Schools VPP Pilot Project. Synergy will install the VPP technology and infrastructure at schools that are participating, including a commercial battery and — for some schools — solar panels.
  • The VPP technology used in the Schools VPP Pilot Project will test and learn how a VPP can help each school better manage their electricity consumption and could help make the local electricity grid more stable and reliable, improving system security and sustainability.
      
 

View the list of schools currently participating in the Schools VPP Pilot Project below:

  • Baldivis Secondary College
  • Belridge Secondary College, Beldon
  • Butler College
  • Champion Bay Senior High School
  • Coastal Lakes College, Lakelands
  • Comet Bay Primary School, Secret Harbour
  • Geraldton Senior High School
  • Gilmore College, Orelia
  • Hannans Primary School
  • Joseph Banks Secondary College, Banksia Grove
  • Kalbarri District High School
  • Kalgoorlie Primary School
  • Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School
  • O’Connor Primary School
  • Rossmoyne Senior High School
  • Success Primary School
  • Waggrakine Primary School

 

Schools Virtual Power Plant Pilot Project regional expansion in 2022

The Minister for Energy and Minister for Education and Training confirmed the Schools VPP Pilot Project regional expansion in August 2021. Seven additional schools across Geraldton, Kalbarri and Kalgoorlie will join the Schools VPP Pilot Project following successful installations at the first 10 schools.

In February 2022, Kalbarri District High School was announced as the newest participating school as a part of the regional expansion of the Schools VPP Pilot Project. 

Synergy will be installing batteries and solar PV at the seven additional schools which includes one school in Kalbarri, three schools in Geraldton and three in Kalgoorlie as part of the WA-first pilot, transforming them into smart and flexible VPPs.

Funding for the regional expansion of the Schools VPP Pilot Project is part of the Schools Clean Energy Technology Fund, with the State Government investing $8.8 million in the program.

The seven regional schools that will be participating in the Schools VPP Pilot Project as part of its regional expansion are:

  • Champion Bay Senior High School
  • Geraldton Senior High School
  • Hannans Primary School
  • Waggrakine Primary School
  • Kalbarri District High School
  • Kalgoorlie Primary School
  • O’Connor Primary School

The Schools VPP Pilot Project will also provide learning opportunities related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to inspire the next generation to explore new possibilities for WA’s energy future.

Find out more:

Learn how Virtual Power Plants work

Learn about energy-sharing

 

View our Schools VPP FAQs below

Want to learn more about Schools VPP? Take a look at our helpful and comprehensive list of FAQs below.

What is Schools VPP?

Synergy and the Western Australian State Government have developed the Schools VPP Pilot Project that will see Synergy install commercial batteries and VPP technology at participating schools across the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) which, in conjunction with solar PV systems, will enable the aggregated components to act as a VPP.

Which schools are participating in the pilot?

17 schools are currently proposed to participate in the pilot which will include a cross section of metro, regional, primary and secondary schools. Synergy has worked with the Department of Education to identify suitable schools to participate based on several operational, system and technical considerations.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School was the first regional school that participated in the pilot. 

Seven additional regional schools, one in Kalbarri, three in Geraldton and three in Kalgoorlie will be participating in 2022 as part of the regional expansion of the pilot.

Do schools need to have solar panels already to be eligible?

Schools do not necessarily need to have existing rooftop solar PV systems to be selected as a participant in the Schools VPP Pilot Project. A key consideration is the ability to test how a school may benefit from being part of a VPP through the use of optimised solar PV and battery storage systems.

When will the VPP/ battery be installed?

Installation was completed at the initial participating schools in August 2021. Works will begin at the seven additional regional schools participating as part of the regional expansion of the pilot in Kalbarri, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie following an analysis and selection process.

How long will the pilot be?

The duration for each school participation pilot will be 24 months from the date of installation of the infrastructure and VPP technology.

What are the benefits of VPPs for the system?

VPPs could offer a potential reduced need for large-scale generation assets such as a coal or gas power stations and long-distance electricity distribution networks transporting energy to households and businesses in the future. VPPs are a step towards a more sustainable future.

What are the benefits of a VPP for the school?

The Schools VPP Pilot Project will focus on building the capability and technology to support a blueprint for future VPPs. The pilot will build and test the ability to aggregate and dispatch multiple small distributed energy resources like solar and battery storage installations to determine the potential benefits for the school, network and the local community.

The Schools VPP Pilot Project will also include the integration of science, technology, engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities for the students at participating schools.

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