Solar Victoria logo

Virtual Power Plant (VPP) pilot program

The VPP pilot program has helped Victorian households create and share power, save money on energy bills and reduce reliance on the grid.

The program is now in a research phase to understand the learnings from the pilot.

Introduction

The Solar Victoria Virtual Power Plant (VPP) pilot program is an initiative designed to connect Victorian households and reduce their energy costs by making the most of renewable energy from solar panels and batteries.

About the program

In a first for Victoria, Solar Victoria is offered a ground-breaking opportunity to take part in powering our energy future, by making it easier for Victorians to join a Virtual Power Plant. Virtual Power Plants, or VPPs, deliver a range of different networks for solar battery systems to share power.

These networks offer individual deals with a range of benefits and program structures, that will enable you to power up your panels and put you in the driver’s seat with other Victorians to manage your power.

This will puts you on the path to smaller energy bills, payments for sharing your stored energy, and increased grid resilience. As an extension of the existing Solar Homes program the VPP Pilot carries all the safety and consumer protections of the established programs.

FAQs

  • A virtual power plant (VPP) is a network of individual distributed energy resources, such as solar PV and batteries that are located in different places. Through aggregation in a VPP, these systems may then be able to participate in trading in the electricity market and providing network services and grid support.

    A VPP is a better, cleaner way to do energy – and gives eligible Victorian households the power to create, share and manage power together. When enough households have batteries, they can network them together using smart technology - to bring a new, significant resource online that makes the most of your solar system and battery. VPPs accelerate the role of renewable energy in our daily lives as Victorians work together and bring benefits to the environment in their own communities.

    The extra solar power is stored in the battery. When demand for electricity is high this extra power can be fed into the VPP network, taking the stress off at peak times to create a more reliable network. So, you and your community can benefit from fewer disruptions, more stable services and, ultimately, cheaper power.

    You can save money, reduce your carbon footprint and be connected to a community that helps guarantee a stable energy supply for you and your household.

    Through a robust expression of interest process, Solar Victoria selected programs, that each offer a different Virtual Power Plant network. These approved VPP programs were evaluated on their ability to deliver a successful program, as well as their ability to increase energy affordability for participating households and their focus on strong consumer protections.

    Consumer protections include guaranteed benefits for households and safeguards against misleading sales pitches and contracts and the misuse of data collected. You will also have a minimum ten-day cooling off period and clearly defined exit fees should you choose to leave the program early.

    You should research approved VPP programs to choose which program has the features that best fit your household and maximises the benefits you want.

  • VPPs met several eligibility requirements to take part in this program. Requirements included that they operate in Victoria, have a commercially available program, provide consumer price certainty for a minimum of twelve months and be able to demonstrate benefits for participating households. They must also agree to Solar Victoria’s consumer protections, which include price certainty and consumer assistance, and install systems on Solar Victoria’s approved product list.

  • Customers interested in joining an approved VPP program were required to apply before 31 December 2022 to receive a higher battery rebate amount of $4, 174. VPP pilot rebate applications are now closed.

    The Solar Victoria VPP Pilot Program continues through to 31 December 2024 to evaluate and review the benefits and outcomes of the programs. A number of the approved VPP Projects offer contracts and participation beyond this period of time. This VPP Pilot Program has been designed to ensure customers will not be disadvantaged if they decide the VPP Pilot Program is not for them. If you decide to leave your VPP project before the contract is expired, you will not have to pay your VPP provider a cancellation and/or exit fees.

  • Batteries are required to be on Solar Victoria’s approved battery list comprising energy storage solutions that are ‘Virtual Power Plant (VPP) capable’ with technical capabilities aligned with the Australian Energy Market Operators National Electricity Market VPP Demonstration Program Minimum Capability Specifications. These systems are on the Clean Energy Council’s list of Approved Energy Storage DevicesExternal Link and have been assessed for capabilities including performance, safety, internet accessibility, security, and remote registration, monitoring and control, enabling batteries to provide network support services, participate in virtual power plants and/or future Distributed Energy Resource marketplaces.

  • Depending on the VPP provider you are with you may get paid for the power stored in your battery or you may receive a discount on your electricity bills. Each program outlines how and when you will be compensated, as well as how often and how much energy will be shared across the year, so you will know how this works at the time of joining the program. This information is an important part of choosing the right program that works for you.

  • This will depend on the nature of the VPP. Some VPPs are geographically based while some operate Victoria wide.

  • To become an approved VPP provider, each program is required to have a clear dispute resolution process. You should first contact the VPP provider to resolve any issues. However if an issue cannot be resolved, Solar Victoria’s customer service team will advise customers and make recommendations on next steps.

    You can read more about ways to educate yourself and other useful information on Solar Victoria’s Consumer Protection page.

  • Off-grid installations are not part of the program.

  • As defined by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), battery systems that are ‘VPP ready’ meet a set of technology requirements that include:

    • being able to respond to remote requests to charge/discharge the battery (e.g. requests to charge battery at peak solar photovoltaic [PV] export time);
    • being able to communicate state of charge, voltage and measure power flow at battery terminals (e.g. communicate to the AEMO on battery charge level to assist forecasting); and
    • being able to assist network security and reliability (e.g. advanced ride through settings to support system security in the event of unscheduled outages).
  • You retain your battery. It can then function regularly with your solar panels as a solar energy storage system.

  • The five approved VPP programs have varying minimum contract lengths and exit fees, which you should consider as part of your research into VPP programs. Details of the exit fees and contract lengths are included on the VPP Program page.

  • If you choose to run your battery during a power outage, the battery capacity required depends on a number of factors, including the size of your solar system, your electricity usage (daily and seasonally), and the energy requirements of any appliances that you wish to run during a power outage.

  • Read our Buyer’s guideExternal Link for more information about how solar battery systems work, and how to plan a system.

    We recommend that you also do your own independent research as joining a Virtual Power Plant is a big undertaking and each household uses electricity differently. You might even change your energy usage over the length of the contract, for example if you purchase an electric vehicle, so you will need to also take this into account.

    FAQs: Solar batteries

  • The VPP Pilot is designed to help households install solar batteries (or solar panels and batteries), so they can take part in an approved VPP program. If you currently have a battery we encourage you to get in touch with a VPP provider to see if your battery is eligible for their program. However if you already have a battery and do choose to join a VPP program you may not receive the same benefits and protections offered under the VPP Pilot.

  • To become an approved VPP provider, each program is required to have a clear dispute resolution process. You should first contact the VPP provider to resolve any issues. However if an issue cannot be resolved, Solar Victoria’s customer service team will advise customers and make recommendations on next steps.

    You can read more about ways to educate yourself and other useful information on Solar Victoria’s Consumer Protection pageExternal Link .

Reviewed 12 January 2023

Subscribe now

Sign up to Solar Victoria's industry and consumer news. 

Subscribe