A Virtual Power Plant consists of a network of distributed solar power and battery systems co-ordinated by a central VPP operator that:
Releases some (or all) of the batteries’ stored energy into the grid during periods of peak demand when wholesale electricity prices are high.
May direct the batteries to charge from the grid when electricity demand is so low that grid stability is threatened.
How does it work
The provision of these grid services can be very lucrative for the VPP operator and they will share some of this benefit with their network members in different ways, including periodic fees, payment for battery energy used, and enhanced feed-in tariffs for exported energy, reduced consumption rates, etc.
By being part of a Virtual Power Plant you allow your battery to play an active role in the operation of the grid, supporting it in handling increasing levels of renewable energy – so it’s a good thing to do in principle. You’ll also get some financial reward.
But for this you’ll be giving up control of your battery to a third party, may find your battery has insufficient charge for your needs at times and will have your battery worked harder than if used by yourself alone.
A VPP operator will generally become your Retailer, or may operate through another designated Retailer.
Choose your VPP operator carefully
It’s really important to read the small print on any VPP offer, as the mix of rights (the operator’s) and benefits (yours) vary considerably and can be hard to understand and compare.
A couple of points to keep in mind:
The VPP operator is focused on making money for themselves, not for you – and it’s your battery which is the asset they’re going to be using, so be sure you’re getting a fair slice of the benefits
The big ‘gentailers’ (Energy Australia, AGL, Origin) have a strong interest in maximising output and extending the life of their fossil fuel power stations, and excessive market power within the NEM, so consider if you want to give them control of your battery as well! Look instead for a VPP operator focused on renewable energy only.
If you do your research and decide you can put your battery to work in supporting the grid, and get more than enough benefit to compensate for the sacrifices, then go for it – but do so with an VPP operator that shares your commitment to renewable energy!
There are several sources comparing current VPP offers, including this one from Energy Matters.
Solarquotes and Energy Matters have very good information about VPP on their websites, which we’ve drawn on substantially for this article.
Need assistance with solar for your business or home?
Chris Lee is happy to discuss solar for your business or house, you can email Chris here.
So you’re interested in volunteering? In doing something meaningful and fun? In working with dynamic and inspiring people?
We’d love to have you.
Zero Emissions Sydney North is an all-volunteer run community organisation working in Mosman and the Northern Beaches LGAs. We’re all about practical ways to take action on climate: things we can do that will have a real impact. No-one is going to solve the climate crisis on their own. Working together for zero emissions has to be the way forward.
Where to start?
Choose from a range of activities to match your skills and/or interests.
Solar My House is Zero Emissions Sydney North’s flagship program. We’ve run over 30 events since 2019, reaching more than 300 households, creating guides, videos and case studies, and attending forums, local expos and online events. We’re always looking for people who are passionate about rooftop solar to get involved with organising events and taking this exciting program forward. You don’t need special skills, just enthusiasm for making a difference. If you can help, please contact Ann Charlott.
Zero Emissions Homes working group meets regularly and creates resources to save energy and emissions at home. They produce Council/LGA specific Sustainable Living Guides, the first was the Mosman Sustainable Living Guide provided to Mosman LGA’s 30,000 residents in mid 2021. They promote switching and supporting renewable energy to approx. halve household emissions. They also look at sustainable solutions including new house design, renovations, appliances, pools and policy. If you are interested in ecosmart retrofits, building trends and energy savings, please email Ursula on email@example.com
Out and about
The Zero Emissions Markets team launched our first market stall at Mosman in October last year. Since then, they’ve held 7 events. In 2022, their sights are set on exploring markets in the Northern Beaches. It’s a fun opportunity to meet like-minded volunteers and to have meaningful conversations with the local community. No experience required, just a big smile and an hour or two of your time! If you’re interested, please contact Lesley.
Zero Emissions Schools is run by Jenni Hagland and Liz Migliorini. They are responsible for the guides on our Schools page and they convene the Zero Emissions Schools Network (Mosman). If you’re involved in education, or if you’ve got school age children and want to get your school involved in sustainability, they would be keen to hear from you. Lots to do, from researching resources to project managing events. Please email Jenni on firstname.lastname@example.org
Zero Emissions Transport is run by Ursula and the Zero Emissions Transport working group. They’ve put together great resources and guides to help electrify your transport on our Electric Vehicles and Electric Bikes pages. They’ve reached over 250 households with Zero Emissions Transport info sessions, and held 7 E-Transport Markets show and tells with electric cars, bikes, scooters and motorcycles. They’ve investigated second hand EVs, hosted a test-drive day, compiled a report on Councils installing chargers, and are creating case studies on many EVs. If you have an EV or are interested in EVs, and would like to be involved, please email Ursula on email@example.com
If you’re good with words, pictures, sounds, and any other form of story-telling, Harriet wants your help. She puts together the newsletter, website, this blog, marketing materials, and tries to keep up with social media. If you’re an introvert who wants to save the world, or a wordpress genius, if you’re an instagram maven or a budding film maker, a demon proof reader or someone who just likes a yarn, just say hello to Harriet on firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to hearing from you!
Students and teachers from Beauty Point Public School played host for the third meeting of the Zero Emissions Schools Network (Mosman) on August 4rd. With greater Sydney in lockdown, it had to be online but, thanks to some video magic, we still got a tour around the school’s environmental trail.
The trail takes you past the vegetable gardens, with built-in watering systems, the cosy home for stingless native bees, the worm farm and the birds and bees highway.
The BPPS Green Team was launched in 2020. They have many ideas for improving sustainability around the school. The school has a water tank and it installed solar panels in October 2020 with assistance from Solar My School. Some of the students’ favourite activities are tree planting and biodiversity initiatives such as the birds and bees highway. Last year grants from Greening Australia and Sustainable Schools have funded planting including 6 large trees and 150 small tubestock trees.
The most colourful sustainability initiative is their rainbow lorikeet mural, which brightens up the playground while reducing UV reflection.
You have all achieved so much. I love what the schools are doing and proposing. Our schools and children are key to getting our community onboard and meeting our net zero target.
All Mosman Schools were represented at the meeting. It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and cheer each other on. Thank you, Beauty Point Public School, for hosting, and for giving us a wonderful virtual tour. We look forward to our next meeting on 27 October at Sacred Heart, Mosman.
For more information on family friendly sustainability tips check out Zero Emissions Schools on our website or contact Jenni Hagland, Program Leader. Interested in a school network in your area? Get in touch!
The pictures tell the story. In just a year, Zero Emissions Sydney North has held more than 20 Solar My House parties and webinars, two Electric Vehicle webinars and a Solar Open House day. Our volunteers have attended Mosman markets, delivered flyers and hosted parties. After lengthy research, we have partnered with two businesses with renewable energy at their core.
We’ve built a core group of volunteers and found friends and colleagues across local government and not-for-profit organisations. We’ve won two grants and helped people put more than $250,000 worth of solar panels on houses in the Northern region of Sydney. This is roughly equivalent to planting nearly 5000 trees, or saving of nearly 2 million kilometres of fossil-fuelled driving!
All that remains is to say thank you to all the brilliant people and organisations who have walked alongside, including:
Our Advisory Team and all the individuals and businesses who have said ‘yes, sure, what can I do?’ And last but definitely not least, a heartfelt thanks to all our amazing volunteers, many of whom star in the video.
We are a not-for-profit association of volunteers working across the Northern Beaches and the North Shore. We operate as part of the national Beyond Zero Emissions network. Our focus is on practical projects that will accelerate our transition to net zero emissions.
What rebates can I get on solar panels? How much does it cost to install rooftop solar? How do I choose a reputable company? Are batteries worth the money? And what’s with these Facebook ads for cheap deals?
Bring all your questions to our free Solar My House webinar at 6.30pm on September 16, 2020. Hosted by volunteers Ann-Charlott and Ursula, with the expert input of solar guru David Veal from Solarpro, this relaxed and friendly info session aims to get you up to speed on rooftop solar and show you how you could save money on power bills and help the environment.
We’ve already helped 100s of households start their solar journey. Here’s what some of them have said:
I thought the evening was honestly great. For me it removed any barriers to entry with making the switch, mostly around research, clarity and options. I thought the good, better, best approach was perfect. Thanks so much for starting this clever, helpful and powerful (no pun intended) initiative.
I love the fact that you guys are getting up and doing something when so many others just worry but never take action. It is exciting to have a target to work towards for our region. I love the fact that you have built in a ‘giving loop’ and plan to install solar for various charities to allow them to focus their funds on their core work, while simultaneously reducing emissions. Simply brilliant!
As it’s getting colder, we’re spending more time inside and our energy bills are going up. The perfect time to make some changes to reduce our energy consumption.
The Australian Energy Foundation recently ran a helpful webinar with a special focus on the top 2 energy vampires: Heating & cooling your house (40%) and hot water (23%). AEF’s top tips range from do-it-yourself fixes to investing in big-ticket items – such as reverse-cycle air conditioning for heating and heat pumps for hot water.
In our last post we covered the easy behavioural changes that you can use straight away. Now, some ways to make a big difference – to your bill and your carbon emissions.
Heating & Cooling
How to heat your house?
Reverse-cycle split-system air conditioning is now the most efficient and cheapest system to use. If you’ve got solar on your roof or are buying your power from a renewable electricity retailer, you can feel even better about your environmental footprint. Gas heaters are now second place with a bleak future: gas prices are going up and, as a fossil fuel, gas produces carbon emissions.
Properly insulating your house can cut your heating/cooling bills by 40-50%! If your house was insulated before 2010, you should re-visit the roof space and see if you need to upgrade to better materials. Insulating your walls is expensive and only recommended as part of a reno project – you can do one room at a time.
The average old Aussie home has cracks and gaps that amount to the equivalent of a football-sized hole in your wall! Get cracking and start fixing those cracks. Some ideas to get you started:
Seal door gaps with products from your favourite hardware store or a door snake
Close off your air vents – could be as simple as a piece of cardboard and duct tape
Use ‘No more gaps’ products to fill in the gap between your floorboards and skirting
Buy a ‘chimney sheep’ to seal your unused chimney
Need inspiration? Just follow the step-by-step videos “Green It Yourself” with Lish, Queen of Green.
10-20% of heat escapes through windows, unless they have double-glazing. Some easy fixes:
Thick curtains that touch the floor with pelmets at the top.
Do-it-yourself double glazing: Put adhesive film on your window (check out Lish again) or even cheaper, use bubble wrap.
If your existing hot water system (gas or electric) bites the dust, replace it with a heat pump. Heat pumps can use up to 80% less energy than a standard electric tank. Start doing your research when your existing electric tank is about 8 to 9 years old (check age on the compliance plate on your tank) – they last about 10 years. Know exactly what you are going to buy when the old tank stops working.