What is the deal with Virtual Power Plants? The Public and Private Benefits of VPPs

Why are Virtual Power Plants (#VPP) key to greener and cheaper energy for all? And why is joining a VPP a “no-brainer” for anyone who has solar + battery? Discover Energy’s National Sales Manager, Manbeena Sethi and VPP Solutions Architect, Neal Harris, talk to Claudette Palomares about the many benefits of VPP – both for the individual homeowner and for the community at large.

To learn more about the Discover Energy VPP visit: https://www.discoverenergy.com.au/vpp , call 1300 946 898 or email sales_vpp@discoverenergy.com.au

Full Transcript below:

Claudette: Welcome to Discover Energy VPP Tech Talk, my name is Claudette and I’m the VPP Marketing Specialist here at Discover Energy and I’m with Manbeena, VPP National Sales Manager of Discover Energy and Neal, VPP Solutions Architect for Discover Energy. Welcome guys, thanks !

Manbeena: Glad to be here

Neal: Thanks Claudette.

Claudette: As you both know, over the past few years, batteries have increasingly become a byword for the future of household energy. In fact in 2020, we’ve seen more than 110,000 batteries installed in households around Australia. But another concept is increasingly becoming a buzzword are Virtual power plants or VPPs.

Manbeena, can I ask, what is a virtual power plant and what does it have to do with batteries?

Mabeena: Virtual Power Plant is what it says on the box. It’s a power plant or energy generating source that produces and delivers electricity digitally or virtually. Virtual Power Plants in particular refer to a network of distributed energy resources that is brought together to deliver aggregate energy. For most VPPs these come from batteries.

At Discover Energy, we use cloud-based software to link hundreds of household batteries together to deliver a powerful amount of renewable energy back to the grid during times of high demand. 

Claudette: Thanks Manbeena for your explanation. Neal, around the country there have been a number of VPP programs emerging, as well as increasing integration and representation of VPPs in the electricity market and in industry reform.

Why are VPPs good for the electricity market – basically why are VPP’s a good thing for all of us – not just battery owners?

Neal: We know from an operational and environmental perspective, Australia’s current infrastructure for producing and delivering energy is unsustainable. This is why regulatory bodies, corporations and disruptors like Discover Energy are working to create new and viable ways to support the transition to renewable energy.

Control of battery storage is best when it’s coordinated with the energy system; whether that’s the markets or for the benefit of grid security and VPPs provide this coordination. This means that network costs can be significantly reduced – which means cheaper, cleaner energy for everyone.

Claudette: Some customers in Queensland and South Australia will be acquainted with peak reduction programs, how do these relate to virtual power plants?

Neal: While VPPs are typically associated with batteries, going forward there are going to be many more assets and functions that can be included. Some of these are already being implemented in isolated cases as you have just mentioned.

The idea behind a VPP is to integrate all of these functions in one platform in order to streamline customer experiences in an increasingly complicated energy world.

Claudette: Thanks Neal for your insights. Manbeena, there are obviously many advantages to VPP from a community perspective but what about the individual homeowner with solar and battery.

Why is joining a VPP so important?

Manbeena: Thanks Claudette, there are a number of reasons why joining a VPP is so beneficial for a homeowner with a solar battery, or a homeowner looking to install solar and battery. And some of these benefits are specific to the Discover Energy VPP program.

Firstly, joining a VPP optimises the profit potential of your battery. Because a battery allows for the discharge of energy to be controlled, this means that electricity is fed back to the grid only when it is needed, and when conditions are optimal, i.e. when the price of electricity is high.

Discover Energy has developed a platform that is one of the most sophisticated examples of this technology in the world. 

Claudette: Can you explain a bit more Manbeena?

Manbeena: Our software is driven by AI technology with exceptional predictive power. This allows us to anticipate with a high amount of accuracy the predicted electricity price in 5 minutes. What this means for the customer is that the revenue generated from discharging their battery, in effect selling battery energy to the grid, is greatly optimised.

We’ve seen VPP customers in less than three months reduce their bills to zero and start earning credits. In fact, 93.7% of all our VPP customers earn credits, and on average earn $85.65 every month through energy trading and Discover Energy’s premium solar feed-in tariffs for VPP. Discover Energy’s VPP is also the first VPP energy trading platform in Australia that can be user-enabled.

This means you can also control and elect to discharge your battery energy manually. Through the Discover Energy VPP, customers can also enjoy free battery recharging.

Claudette: That’s really exciting Manbeena! From what you and Neal describe, the advantages for VPPs are such that it sounds like a no-brainer for anyone who has solar and battery, or is considering installing solar and battery. 

Neal: Yes, and Manbeena’s only really talked about current benefits of joining a VPP. Discover Energy is working on increasing the range of features and benefits, particularly profit making applications – ways in which VPPs can make money for customers.

Claudette: Electric Vehicles are coming too, is there a role for VPPs to play in ensuring they are filled with renewable energy?

Neal: EVs are going to change how we consume electricity. But to the electricity network, an EV is a big battery on wheels, so there are going to be many opportunities to use this resource to stabilise the network and deliver better prices for customers. Not only filling them with renewable energy, but filling them more cost efficiently and helping us use more renewable energy in general.

Claudette: So there is plenty of value for customers in not only getting onboard with VPPs now, but going forward it’s only going to increase.

Manbeena: Yes, as you say, Claudette, if you have solar and battery, a VPP is a no brainer, particularly the Discover Energy VPP. We are proud to say that there are no lock-in contracts or exit fees to join Discover Energy. We have the largest range of eligible hardware in the country.

So,if  you have a battery, you can enjoy the benefits of our premium solar feed-in and energy trading for at least 12 months. 


Claudette: Thanks Manbeena and thanks Neal. If you are interested in learning more about the Discover Energy VPP, you can scan this QR code or visit www.discoverenergy.com.au, call us at 1300 946 898

Related news
Now open: Gas in Victoria!
2021-09-14
Discover Energy is delighted to announce that it is now licensed to retail gas in Victoria for sites serviced by Australian Gas Networks Limited (Envestra) and SP AusNet distribution networks.* Customers in these regions can now sign up to both electricity and gas plans and take full advantage of Discover Energy’s fuss-free, great value plans and attentive, 1:1 service. Victorian VPP members who sign up to Discover Energy gas will also have the opportunity to offset their gas bills with with their VPP credits. To compare plans, or to sign up with Discover Energy Gas click on this link or send a Facebook message or call 1300 946 898. *Service to Multinet customers forthcoming. Don’t know your gas distributor? You’ll find your details in your gas bill.
Get DE VPP Ready: A short guide
2021-09-01
So you want to get virtual power plant ready. You want blackout protection through your solar battery and independence from the electricity grid, while also enjoying premium solar feed-in rates and make money selling excess battery to the grid via Discover Energy’s trading platform. Here’s the 4 things you’ll need to join the Discover Energy VPP: A Smart Meter Discover Energy’s VPP is a cloud-based service that’s entirely digital.  Rapid communication between your battery, our platform and the electricity network is key. Currently Discover Energy makes transactions between batteries in our VPP network and the electricity grid in 30min intervals. It’s therefore essential that your site meter is a smart meter. It can take up to a month to install and make a full switch to a smart meter, so don’t delay in requesting a switch from your energy retailer if you haven’t yet upgraded. Solar and Battery Unlike many VPPs in the Aussie market, Discover Energy VPP is a BYO battery and solar program. This means there are an extensive range of batteries and pv that are compatible to the Discover Energy VPP. We do have a couple of further eligibility rules for battery, so please refer to the VPP compatibility list for full details. An Eligible PV inverter The most important piece of hardware that determines if your households is eligible to join Discover Energy’s VPP your PV inverter, specifically the brand/manufacturer and model of your inverter. Think of your PV inverter as the brain of your solar and battery system. It communicates with your PV and battery to find out how much battery you have, how much solar you are generating and your consumption patterns. The Discover Energy VPP works by connecting your PV inverter to the electricity grid and by using AI software and proprietary algorithms to determine the optimum opportunity for your battery to discharge electricity back to grid, and earn money. We’ve currently integrated our software with 5 of the biggest inverter brands in the market: Alpha-ESS, Sungrow, Solar Edge, Goodwe and Huawei. If you have a PV inverter from one of these brands, you are likely to be eligible to join the Discover Energy VPP*. Compatible Systems: *Exceptions apply. Please refer to the Discover Energy VPP Product Compatibility List for a full list of compatible products.  Interested in the Discover Energy VPP and joining 93.7% of VPP customers who pay $0 for electricity and earn credits every month? Visit https://www.discoverenergy.com.au/vpp or call 1300 946 898 Solar installers interested in partnering with Discover Energy? Visit https://www.discoverenergy.com.au/vpp_channel
Discover Energy announces full VPP API integration with Huawei FusionSolar
2021-07-22
Discover Energy is delighted to announce the full API integration of their Virtual Power Plant (VPP) platform with Huawei FusionSolar, becoming the first VPP in Australia to integrate with Huawei. The integration allows customers who are already using Huawei inverters for their battery systems to join Discover Energy’s VPP network, helping to optimise income through the energy trading platform and sell excess power back to the grid. The partnership marks another token of success for Discover Energy since its inception in 2018. Discover Energy leverages AI, machine learning and deep solar data to develop electricity spot-price forecasting with high accuracy and allows VPP members to participate in electricity trading, which includes access to up to a market-leading 45c/kWh solar feed-in tariff*. Discover Energy now boasts over 700 VPP members across the nation. The Huawei LUNA 2000 battery “It’s exciting to see Discover Energy continuing to extend the frontier of VPP technology in Australia and we’re proud to be working with such an established technology business like Huawei,” says Anson Zhang, CEO of Discover Energy. “Continuing to strengthen our VPP open hardware infrastructure will benefit our customers’ return on investment through increased AI learning and by putting energy trading into more customers’ hands, we’re a step closer to a smart and sustainable future.” Daniel Lin, Managing Director of Huawei Solar Business Australia, believes the partnership comes as Huawei makes its foray into Australia’s rooftop solar boom and as VPP grows to become a pioneering energy solution. “With the decrease in feed-in tariff and the growing demand for battery storage and VPPs in Australia, we believe the partnership between Huawei and Discover Energy will benefit the Australian customer by not only providing the ultimate user experience but also maximising the return of their solar investment,” Lin says. Discover Energy is also currently working with Huawei to trial Huawei’s new Luna 2000 energy storage system, launched at the Smart Energy Conference 2021, on the VPP platform.  *This rate applies to customers on a VPP Premium Plan for their first 300 kWh per quarter. About Huawei FusionSolar Huawei FusionSolar offers leading Smart PV solutions that harness Huawei’s more than 30 years of expertise in digital information technology. As the largest inverter supplier from 2015 to 2019 globally for 5 consecutive years, Huawei FusionSolar is committed to building efficient, smart O & M, safe, reliable and grid supporting PV plants, helping customers to optimise initial investments, raise energy yield, and increase ROI. With rapid digitalisation of people’s daily life, Huawei FusionSolar C&I and residential Smart PV solution offers exceptional user experience through refined safety and better installation experience. “Digital turbo, upgrade your solar experience”, “AI boost AFCI to proactively mitigate fire risk” and “battery ready, future proof” are the key values of Huawei FusionSolar’s residential and C&I solutions. In 2021, Huawei will further integrate AI technologies to boost LCOE and accelerate grid parity for all. Visit https://solar.huawei.com/au