Can a Solar Car Park be a part of a Solar Virtual Power Plant?
Solar car parks and solar shade structures are definitely able to be a part of a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) given the right conditions.
What is a VPP?
A VPP or Virtual Power Plant is a connect and co-ordinated group of solar energy-producing systems connected to share energy within a community. Various mechanisms can be used to connect a VPP, but the principle is one of shared electricity for the benefit of the community and the environment.
Do Solar Virtual Power Plants (or Solar VPPs) Run in Australia?
Yes, solar VPP’s do run in Australia. They are most popular in South Australia, where a pilot program called the AGL Virtual Power Plant began in 2017. In February 2021, the Western Australian Government announced there own VPP program.
Can VPPs replace coal-burning power stations?
That is the end goal! Currently, VPP’s are a drop in the ocean when it comes to total electricity generation. Still, the shared model of solar has been pioneered overseas and is gaining momentum here in Australia.
Can VPP’s include other forms of electricity generation?
Yes, in theory, they can and overseas VPP’s have included hydroelectricity and wind farms. In Australia VPP’s use solar energy collected from solar panels, primarily in residential areas.
How does commercial solar fit into a Virtual Power Plant?
At the moment, businesses can be a part of a VPP in South Australia. The VPP market in Australia is an emerging field, and there is lots of “talk” about the future of VPPs. As the technology evolves, there are plenty of options for commercial participation in VPPs, including:
– Factories receiving power from local homes
– Centralised battery storage locations for a VPP
– Creation of “mini solar farms” on commercial land within communities to feed into VPP
– Residential use of electricity generated by commercial facilities and vice versa.
How can Solar Car Parks be a part of a Solar Virtual Power Plant?
Solar car parks are the ideal mechanism to create a mini solar farm to feed into local VPP’s. Whether they are at the local shopping centre, surrounding the train station or on any other public car parking space, solar car parks can generate significant electricity that can then be used by the local community.
In the future the design of solar car parks could even include areas for battery storage of electricity, contributing to the VPP grid.
Can Solar Shade Structures be used for Solar VPP’s?
Yes, solar shade structures can be used in solar VPPs, although, it has not been done in Australia. Even so, there is no reason that it cannot be done moving forward. The structures that we use at PV Structures to create solar car parks can also be used for general shade structures. This should be of particular note for councils and government buildings, as well as sports clubs and recreational facilities. Shade structures engineered and configured with solar panels can have the electricity they generate fed into the grid just like any other solar panel. If this grid is connected to a VPP, the benefits of the solar power that is generated can be felt by the wider community.
If you are interested in a solar structure or solar car park for your shopping centre, business, factory, industrial unit or you are from a local council, get in touch with one of the PV Structures team. We will walk you through our process and discuss how our structures can add significant value to your project.
For more information on VPP’s in South Australia head to the Government of South Australia’s Home Battery Scheme Website at https://homebatteryscheme.sa.gov.au/join-a-vpp
For specific updated content on VPP’s in Australia head to Solar Quotes Blog https://www.solarquotes.com.au/battery-storage/vpp-comparison/
For information on Federal level VPP Projects and other initiatives in renewables, head to the ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) website https://www.solarquotes.com.au/battery-storage/vpp-comparison/
For information on the type of solar car parks we have been involved in head to our projects page here