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Perth startup powers through heatwave by adding 3MW to grid

Henry Thai
Henry Thai
Robbie Campbell-Plico
// // Perth clean tech Plico activated hundreds of client batteries after a recent request from the energy market operator...

Last week, Perth was sweltering through some hot days and nights with a low-intensity heatwave. The conditions were such that Western Australia activated its first virtual power plant (VPP) to prevent household blackouts.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) notified WA clean energy startup Plico on 30 January to provide additional capacity to the grid through its network of batteries throughout WA.

The technology

Plico said more than half of its power storage capacity was discharged during the evening peak period, including more than 3 megawatts in power exported directly to the grid.

The first ever activation saw hundreds of Plico customer solar and battery systems work together as one giant battery, exporting energy to the grid during peak usage.

The WA startup assumed control of their customers’ batteries remotely, and set them to store energy during the day – a period typically seeing very low electricity usage.

The batteries are then set to discharge directly to the grid for a period of up to two hours between 5pm and 9pm.

Perth startup powers through heatwave by adding 3MW to grid
Current Plico ads doing the rounds

Plico CEO Robbie Campbell (pictured above) said the clean energy provided to the grid was due to the combination of high temperatures, the expected high-power usage and existing low power reserves. 

“The VPP worked as it is designed to do, to provide additional power to offset the high household demand that would have otherwise strained the grid.  We estimate that 3MW powers approximately 1,500 homes who may otherwise have suffered a blackout,” said Campbell.

This heatwave naturally challenges the power system, especially during periods of extended and extreme weather. To avoid power disruptions to homes during such events, we provide additional clean energy power to the grid to help deal with the extra demand and bump up the reserves.

Robbie Campbell

“To turn the heatwave into something good and provide clean energy back to the grid so houses don’t lose power, is why we exist.  In a world where we demand action on climate change and being less reliant on fossil fuels, this is an opportunity to demonstrate the true power of a VPP, all through WAs sunlight,” he said.

Plico said it currently has a combined battery capacity of 10.5 megawatt hours (MWh).

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You can listen to Plico founder Brian Innes’ story on the Startup West podcast (April 2020).

Read more of the latest news from the startup ecosystem here

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Henry Thai

Henry Thai

Henry studies engineering at Curtin University. He has a diverse set of interests and was previously a journalist and news presenter for 107.3fm and The Wire National Current Affairs on Radio.
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