Following the initial trial, the solar plus storage systems will be installed on 24,000 additional public housing properties.
Combined it would effectively create a vast grid of homes that can produce clean energy and then feed it back into the national grid. Frontier Economics estimates that the state will save about A$180 million in electricity costs, because of increased competition and a more stable grid. Renewal SA will also provide advice on suitable properties to ensure installations complement existing regeneration programs. About 6,500 people have already registered an expression of interest for the program, and the program may be extended if public interest remains high.
The 250MW/650MWh plant, which is how big it will be at the end of the 4.5-year schedule, can meet around 20% of South Australia's average daily energy requirements.
The government will invest around A$800 million ($635 million) to make it happen. Proposals under the Renewable Technology Fund were received through an open call for proposals in September 2017.
"My Government has already delivered the world's biggest battery, now we will deliver the world's largest Virtual Power Plant".
The project, which includes installing solar panels and Tesla Powerwall batteries on thousands of houses, is expected not only to help homes generate their own electricity but also supply it to the state's power grid if needed.
"What's unique about this is the way in which these different elements have been brought together under a coherent plan and executed extremely quickly to deal with the challenges in South Australia", Price said.
The Tesla partnership is clearly meant to counter that kind of criticism - Weatherill can point to the hoped-for improvements and claim that South Australia is on the right path.
A virtual power plant works by taking a large number of solar panels on individual households and integrating them for the benefit of these consumers to lower the cost of their electricity. As of 2016, over 60% of Australia's energy needs are met by coal and only 14% by renewables.