How Origin’s Loop virtual power plant can help solar customers save

One of the country’s biggest energy providers has launched a smart network of connected solar batteries that can help customers save on power bills while relieving pressure on the grid.

Origin Energy’s Loop virtual power plant (VPP) enables households with a rooftop solar and battery system to feed renewable power back into the grid during times of high demand in exchange for credits on their bills.

The Origin Loop VPP acts as its own mini power station where a network of homes with solar batteries help manage supply and demand for grid electricity. Peak demand for grid power is usually on weekdays from 5pm to 8pm, for example.

Using AI technology, Loop is able to draw upon live grid data to determine when power is most needed. It then communicates with participating Origin customers’ batteries to send back a small portion of their stored energy to meet this demand.

For sending electricity back during these times, Origin customers in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria can earn up to $240 a year in bill credits. These credits will be paid in monthly instalments over five years.

To sign up to Origin’s Loop VPP, customers will need to install a compatible battery system through Origin and remain with the provider for a minimum of five years.

Origin is currently shaving $3,500 off the price of its solar battery offer, with no upfront costs on a 24- or 60-month interest-free payment option.

To see the full terms and conditions of this offer, it’s best to head to Origin Energy’s website.

Origin Energy Solar Plans

Origin Solar Plans NSW

Here are the Origin Energy solar plans available on our database in NSW. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. Plans are listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table includes products from a referral partner†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Origin Solar Plans VIC

Here are the Origin Energy solar plans available on our database in Victoria. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. Plans are listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table includes products from a referral partner†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Origin Solar Plans QLD

Here are the Origin Energy solar plans available on our database in SE QLD. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. Plans are listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table includes products from a referral partner†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Origin Solar Plans SA

Here are the Origin Energy solar plans available on our database in SA. These costs are based on SA Power network in Adelaide but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. Plans are listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. This table includes products from a referral partner†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

How do I sign up for Origin’s Loop VPP?

For Aussies keen on joining Loop, they’ll need the following to be applicable:

  • A residence within 50km of Sydney CBD, Melbourne CBD, Brisbane CDB or Gold Coast Metro.
  • An eligible battery and inverter that’s been purchased through Origin. At the time of publication, this is listed on Origin’s website as the LG Chem solar battery.
  • Reliable internet connection to connect your solar battery to the Loop VPP.

In order to be connected to Loop, bill-payers will also need to be signed up to one of Origin’s electricity plans. They’ll then need to remain an Origin customer for a minimum of five years.

For customers that don’t have a compatible solar battery or live outside the eligible areas, they may also be able to join Loop through Origin’s energy-saving rewards program, Spike. This program allows customers to earn cash or shopping vouchers for reducing their energy usage during challenges or ‘SpikeHours’.

To join the Spike program, customers will need to have a smart meter.

To further break down what’s involved with the Loop network, Canstar Blue spoke to Origin’s Head of Customer Innovation, Brendan Manzie, to gain some insights.

What’s the point of creating a VPP or in Origin’s case, Loop?

“The principal thing with a VPP is that we are trying to look at when the grid is under stress or when there may be lots of demand coming from say your neighbours or others in the neighbourhood around you. And the fundamental thing we are trying to achieve is that we can meet those key demands by leveraging the solar that has been generated earlier in the day, storing some of it in your battery and then pushing it out to the grid to meet that demand at a time of peak stress.

“Origin Loop is our sort of branding mechanism of it and we did that because VPP was a little bit confronting for a lot of folks. A virtual power plant isn’t the most user-friendly name so we thought about what is it and really that’s where that name ‘Loop’ came from in that it’s very much this interconnection of energy sources of supply and demand.”

Aside from being financially rewarded, what other benefits can bill-payers expect from joining Loop?

“The other benefit, not necessarily a financial one, is that by connecting that battery up to our Loop VPP, we can also keep an eye on the battery. Every few minutes there is data flowing in and out, so if something goes wrong, we see immediately if the battery is not charging up as it should or not discharging as it should – that will raise a flag in our system and help us to then contact the customer and then we can look at how to remedy that.

“That’s a really key benefit, especially if you think of the millions of homes with solar right now, that’s an area that’s really lacking in that part of the market. Once you install solar, in most instances, you’re then on your own and the adequate tracking and monitoring just isn’t really there and that’s something we are really focused on in Loop is to give those financial benefits up front but then to make sure that these assets are there and they are working as well on the ground for the next 10 years because that’s really important.”

What should customers be mindful of when joining a VPP?

“To a customer looking to sign up to a VPP, a key thing to keep in mind is, being clear on how much energy or how much access a retailer has to your battery. We (Origin) are very clear on that in our terms and conditions – we have specific terms and conditions for VPP or Loop battery customers that dictate the maximum amount of energy that will come out of that battery.

“Our terms at the moment say 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. The compensation for a customer for that is $20 a month. So, when you are thinking about that trade off – 200kWh is worth about $40-$50 depending on a customer’s energy tariff. These customers are basically donating $40-$50 worth of energy into the grid for $240 back a year as financial compensation. So, the customer can see those things and make a decision around that trade-off. Obviously in that example it’s quite beneficial to the consumer.

“I also encourage customers to get familiar and understand the other benefits they get from joining a VPP and make sure that the provider has good monitoring and tracking. It’s important to have that second layer of support there to see that the battery and solar is working as it should and then you can also get a good experience digitally so you can kind of see all your information for your energy costs, whether it is coming from the grid or from your battery or solar. So those three pieces, the cost savings, the monitoring and support and then that visibility are some things we think are actually a really valuable part of the VPP, so the customer should make sure that they understand it as they look at the different options around.”

Origin Energy Plans

Origin Energy Prices NSW

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for NSW. These are products from a referral partner†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Origin Energy Prices VIC

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for Victoria. These are products from a referral partner†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Origin Energy Prices QLD

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for SE QLD. These are products from a referral partner†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Origin Energy Prices SA

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for South Australia. These are products from a referral partner†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Image credit: metamorworks/Shutterstock.com

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