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Virtual Power Plant launched to give customers access to cheaper electricity

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A collective of energy tech companies have joined forces to create a Virtual Power Plant pilot program using blockchain technology that could save customers up to $2500 a year on their electricity bills.

Energy trading company Power Ledger and wholesale energy retailer Powerclub have partnered with German battery manufacturer Sonnen and Natural Solar to launch the initiative.

The Virtual Power Plant is created when a network of solar-powered homes and battery systems pool their energy and feed it back into the grid so other connected households and the wider community can access more affordable solar-generated power.

The benefit for VPP members who are forming the virtual grid is a feed-in fee while customers gain access to cheaper power.

Powerclub has come to an agreement with Power Ledger to offer its blockchain-enabled trading platform to its members to make it easier for them to pool their net solar power and battery storage to create the Virtual Power Plant.

“Power Ledger’s VPP technology enables participants to export stored solar energy at peak periods of demand, giving them the highest value for their exports while alleviating pressure on the grid and reducing Australia’s carbon footprint from fossil fuels” said Power Ledger Co-founder and Executive Chairman Dr Jemma Green.

Powerclub and Power Ledger have also brought Sonnen, the world’s largest solar battery manufacturer, and Natural Solar, one of Australia’s leading solar panel provider, to the table to provide the infrastructure required to commence the pilot program.

“Natural Solar is always on the lookout for innovative technologies that push the boundaries and benefits our customers across the country,” says Chris Williams, CEO and Founder of Natural Solar.

“Power Ledger’s technology, combined with Powerclub’s no-profit processes are a perfect example of this as it allows individual households to effectively trade electricity like a stock market.”

The pilot program will initially roll out to households in South Australia.

South Australian customers will also be able to take advantage of the state’s $4,500 battery subsidy scheme while the first 20 Powerclub members to sign up for the pilot will receive an additional $500.

“We anticipate the VPP will deliver thousands in annual electricity savings for participating South Australians,” says Powerclub Founder and CEO, Stuart McPherson.

Members of Powerclub will be able to access Power Ledger’s technology to allow households to profit from power price spikes and demand shortages.

“Traditionally, energy companies may offer standard payments or incentives ahead of time when they foresee a spike in demand, but these don’t take into account the actual energy contribution customers are making or likely to make,” said Dr Green.

Natural Solar CEO Chris Williams with the Sonnen battery

The way it is now, energy consumers may have to pay additional hidden costs and mark-ups by the electricity retailer to cover supply costs.

But Powerclub members who invest in solar and battery storage get real-time access to leverage the wholesale market.

“It’s these significant advances in technology that are furthering the home battery storage market and swiftly setting the standard for households in Australia,” says Mr Williams.

Powerclub’s CEO and Founder Stuart McPherson said: “Powerclub is relentlessly pursuing new and better ways to help Australians buy, use and sell energy.

“The VPP solution will enable participating Members to both monetize their solar exports while flooding the grid with clean, green solar energy when it needs it most.”

The pilot program is expected to expand to Australia’s eastern states in 2020.