Maximise Your Solar Power With A Virtual Power Plant

Virtual Power Plants (VPPs), just as they sound, are the futuristic next step in small-scale solar energy production. But it’s 2023, and the future is here!

If you have PV solar panels installed at your home, along with solar batteries, then joining a VPP could be your key to removing your reliance on the grid, as well as doing your part to advance Australia’s transition to renewable energy.

Keep reading to find out more.

On this page

  • What is a Virtual Power Plant (VPP)?
  • How does a VPP work?
  • Do I get paid to be part of a VPP?
  • What do I need to be part of a VPP?
  • Are there different types of VPPs?
  • What is the best VPP plan in Australia?

What is a Virtual Power Plant (VPP)?

What is a Virtual Power Plant (VPP)?

A Virtual Power Plant is a relatively new concept in Australia. It is the process of “sharing” electricity generated from separate households by their PV solar panels.

Instead of the excess energy you generate being fed straight back into the grid, it is stored in solar batteries and then distributed to the grid as a collective during times of peak demand. 

This helps the grid to stay stable during demand spikes, such as in particularly hot weather when people are running their air conditioning. Rather than seeing prices skyrocket, VPPs can feed electricity into the grid and help protect energy costs.

As well as helping your energy bill, VPPs also allow more of the grid to be run from renewable solar power, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels.

How does a VPP work?

How does a VPP work?

When your VPP provider needs to access your stored energy, they will initiate an “event”. This is simply a period of time when your provider has access to your battery. If all goes smoothly, you will not notice when an event takes place. Depending on your provider, you might receive an SMS or app notification.

There are three things your provider might do when an event takes place. They could send energy from your battery to the grid, charge your battery, or keep it idle. Your provider will decide what to do based on the bigger picture, with the aim of keeping the supply and demand in the network balanced.

Do I get paid to be part of a VPP?

Yes, you will receive a payment or electricity bill credit from your provider for being part of their VPP. How much and how often you will be paid varies depending on the provider you choose.

Some providers will give you a regular payment when you sign up for their VPP, whereas others base their payments on how often they access your battery.

When you compare energy plans, you should bear in mind that your VPP payments will replace any credit from a solar feed-in tariff that you may have been receiving. You should do the sums to see which option is best for you before moving home electricity to a VPP.

Some VPP plans give you the chance to have a solar battery installed as part of your package, which is a huge benefit for the future of your home’s energy and another factor you should consider when you are researching options to switch electricity and gas suppliers.

When you are looking at new options for your energy, compare non-monetary perks too, so that you know you have made the right choice for your home. With a VPP, this includes playing your role in making the national energy grid more stable and helping to advance Australia’s transition away from fossil fuels.

What do I need to be part of a VPP?

To be part of a VPP you need a few things: solar panels and a solar battery, a smart meter, an internet connection, and a VPP plan. With these things in place, your VPP provider will do the rest and access your stored electricity when needed. 

In some cases, if your battery isn’t compatible with your provider, you may need some additional hardware for your battery or inverter to get up and running. 

Are there different types of VPPs?

When you compare electricity plans for VPPs, there will be two main options to choose from.

  • A battery or solar system bundle

This is a great option if you do not already have solar panels or a solar battery. If you choose a package option, your provider will help with the process of selecting and setting up your battery or solar system, and the upfront costs will usually be spread out into monthly repayments, which will sometimes be offset by the money you earn as a VPP member. 

This is a great way to make residential solar power accessible to a broader range of people, by removing the hefty upfront costs associated with PV panels and batteries when you buy them outright.

  • BYO battery

If you already have a solar system, including a battery, installed at your home, or you prefer to research and organise the installation yourself, then a BYO VPP plan can help you earn more money from your investment. 

If you are considering a BYO VPP, you should check which type of battery is compatible with the provider you are planning to connect to.

What is the best VPP plan in Australia?

While not every retailer offers a VPP yet, there are some great options out there. To discuss your options in more detail, call one of our experts on 1300 786 045. 

Some of the best VPPs are discussed below.

  • EnergyAustralia PowerResponse Virtual Power Plant

EnergyAustralia is one of our preferred suppliers and we love their PowerResponse Virtual Power Plant program.

This VPP plan includes to following features:

  • BYO solar system (PV panels and battery)
  • A fixed monthly payment, regardless of if there are any events that month
  • Power your own home first – only excess energy will be used after your own energy needs are met
  • Retain 20% battery charge for your home’s use in the case of a blackout
  • SMS communication on the next business day to notify you about events

If you do not already have a solar system in your home, the Solar Home Bundle could be a better option. With no upfront cost, you can have solar panels and a battery installed, which you will own after the seven-year contract term. The Solar Home Bundle is currently available to customers in selected NSW areas only – for the cheap electricity in Victoria and other regions, call CheapBills to discuss your options.

  • Origin Energy Loop VPP

The Loop VPP from Origin Energy has something to suit everyone. If you need to package your solar system, you can receive up to $2,000 off the cost of your solar panels and battery. If you already have an eligible Tesla Powerwall 2, you can receive a $400 sign-up bonus, with no lock-in contract.

  • AGL VPP

The AGL VPP gives you the option to receive up to $1,000 off the upfront cost of your solar panels or a solar battery. Or, if you already have an eligible solar battery, you can receive a $100 sign-up bonus and then a $45 credit on your quarterly bill.

Next steps

If you are interested in making the change to a VPP, the first step is to talk to an expert to find the best option for your home. Call CheapBills on 1300 786 045 or enter your details online and one of our team members will help you compare providers and choose the right one for your needs.

When you call, we won’t just compare VPPs. We will consider all of your energy needs to make sure you connect electricity and gas to the best plan to maximize your savings.

If you live in a deregulated energy region of Australia, we can find you the best plan from one of the country’s leading energy providers to secure your access to cheap electricity and gas. We can compare energy in Victoria, NSW, South-East Queensland, SA, TAS, and the ACT.

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