The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) will soon run a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) trial.

AEMO has received a $2.46 million grant to run the VPP integration trial over a 12 to 18 month period, focusing on demonstrating the operational capabilities of VPPs to deliver energy and Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS).

A VPP is a power plant made up of the sum of distributed energy resources (DER) – such as rooftop solar, batteries and controllable loads.

Technology is installed ‘behind-the-meter’ to collectively manage and control services like a conventional power plant.

AEMO will invite existing pilot scale VPPs around Australia to participate, including the ARENA-funded AGL and Simply Energy pilot scale VPPs in South Australia.

Under the demonstration, participating VPPs will operate their portfolio of DER to deliver energy, system security and local network support services.

While VPPs are currently at relatively small scale – approximately 5-10 MW, AEMO forecasts there may be up to 700 MWs of VPP capacity by 2022.

AEMO will also use the data collected to inform changes to regulatory settings and operational processes.

AEMO Managing Director and CEO Audrey Zibelman said it would provide evidence to advance the integration of DER into the grid.

“Australia’s energy landscape is transforming towards a deep penetration of consumer-level renewable generation and storage capability,” Ms Zibelman said.

“Our focus is on the operation of the bidirectional system to increase system security and consumer value for both VPP participants and the power system as a whole,” she said.