At least 50,000 homes in South Australia are to be given solar panels and home battery systems, creating the world’s largest ‘virtual power plant’.
Under an agreement announced by state Premier Jay Weatherill, Tesla will supply and install the equipment free of charge.
The cost of the project will be financed through the sale of electricity generated by the panels.
Analysis by Frontier Economics suggests that the 250MW interconnected power plant will lower energy bills for participating households by 30%.
“The biggest saving for consumers is that they don’t have to pay for as much network cost to deliver power to them because they’re generating their own power,” explained Frontier Economics’ managing director Danny Price.
In the first phase of the project, 1,100 Housing SA properties will receive a 5kW solar panel system and 13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery. Systems are then planned to be installed at a further 24,000 Housing Trust properties before a similar deal is offered to all South Australian households, with a plan for at least 50,000 homes to be connected over the next four years.
Social Housing Minister Zoe Bettison said that installing the systems in Housing Trust homes would provide cheaper power to assist the most vulnerable.
“We know that people in social housing can often struggle meeting their everyday needs and this initiative will take some pressure off their household budget,” she said.
The rollout will be supported by the South Australian government through a A$2m (£1.1m) grant and a A$30m (£17m) loan from the Renewable Technology Fund.
The state government has turned to renewables as part of efforts to boost the reliability of the energy network following an “unprecedented” storm which caused a state-wide blackout in 2016, news agency AFP reported.