Enbala to Enable World’s Biggest Residential Solar-Plus-Storage Virtual Power Plant
Enbala, the Denver, Colo.-based startup with software that runs virtual power plants across North America, has landed a contract to manage the world’s biggest aggregation of household solar and behind-the-meter batteries with Australian utility AGL.
On Monday, Enbala announced it will provide the “cloud-based control and optimization platform” for AGL’s virtual power plant project in South Australia. In terms of its goals, it’s the world’s biggest single VPP, aimed at managing up to 5 megawatts and 12 megawatt-hours of flexibility from up to 1,000 residential behind-the-meter energy storage systems.
AGL’s virtual power plant project, launched with great fanfare in 2016, got off to a rocky start in its first year. Far fewer customers than expected signed up, and undisclosed challenges with the technology provided by initial partner Sunverge caused a halt in installations. After putting the project on hold in August 2017, AGL went on a search for new partners, and in March announced that it was now providing two new battery systems, Tesla’s Powerwall and a combination of LG Chem batteries and SolarEdge inverters, to replace the Sunverge systems.
AGL’s most recent report to its VPP project funding partner, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, lays out the slow but now quickening pace of installations since it picked its new battery vendors. At the end of May 2018, 312 batteries had been installed in customer’s homes, more than 700 batteries had been sold, and more than 500 requotes for customers to upgrade to the newer battery systems had been processed.
But the report also showed that the collection of batteries installed so far “can respond as expected to both planned and unplanned dispatch events and has the potential to respond rapidly enough to participate in the 6-second contingency FCAS market,” which is Australia’s frequency regulation market.
Enbala competed against multiple vendors in an RFP to provide the overarching control platform for all of this new equipment, CEO Bud Vos said. While he wouldn’t name the other contenders, we’ve recently reported on Advanced Microgrid Solutions’ work on virtual power plant projects in Australia, indicating the San Francisco-based startup may also have been seeking the contract.
The new project with AGL will bring some new twists to the kind of work Enbala has been doing so far, Vos said in a Tuesday interview at Greentech Media’s Energy Storage Summit in San Francisco. Beyond being the largest single project yet for the startup, it will also be focused on providing wholesale market services like capacity and frequency regulation, or distribution grid benefits like voltage and power quality management, but on both.