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Regional Australia’s first Virtual Power Plant

The Smart Sun Pilot in Broome demonstrates the energy and cost benefits of coordinating distributed energy resources as a fleet.

In 2017, Horizon Power and DevelopmentWA joined forces to create the Smart Sun pilot, an innovative project that delivered the first Virtual Power Plant in regional Australia. Made up of 15 homes in DevelopmentWA's Waranyjarri Estate in Broome North, each home had a solar and battery renewable energy system coupled with an energy management platform that coordinated the homes as an energy ‘fleet’.  

Smart Sun has allowed Horizon Power and DevelopmentWA to better understand how regional customers can enjoy the benefits of being able to connect renewable energy, while keeping the grid stable for everyone.

The Smart Sun package

For the heavily subsidised price of $5,000, 15 customers had access to a subsidised renewable energy system which included:

  • rooftop solar panels – help to power the house by generating environmentally friendly electricity
  • solar PV inverter – which converts energy from the solar panels into electricity for the household
  • battery – which stores excess electricity generated by the solar panels (used when the solar panels can’t produce electricity, such as cloudy periods)
  • hot water heat pump –  as an energy efficient way of heating water, designed for WA’s harsh conditions
  • local energy management system – which controls major appliances to maximise the use of electricity from the sun (and helps to keep down the amount of grid supplied pow

Smart Sun delivered clear benefits

This innovative pilot program has allowed Horizon Power and DevelopmentWA to better understand how regional customers can connect their solar system into a microgrid, while keeping the grid stable for everyone. We’ve also been able to better understand how these new energy technologies can not only dramatically reduce household electricity bills, but also lower the expensive cost of infrastructure on new developments.

Benefits to our customers

Customers were able to significantly lower their energy bills. With lower power bills, over half the participants were able to use their air conditoners more often.

$6.85 saved per day
in electricity costs
$2,500 average
saving per year
off electricity costs 
$37,500 saved
in total 


Benefits to the grid 

The VPP reduced the load put on the grid, especially at peak times. And without as much demand on the grid, its easier to access renewable energy. And that’s great for the entire community.

26% reduction in peak
demand using battery
27% reduction in
reverse power flow
from solar
9% average
peak reduction
from controlling
air conditioners


Benefits to the environment

By powering homes with more renewable energy,
we reduced 72 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. 


Download the Smart Sun Pilot Report

Read more about the Smart Sun Pilot and the key findings

Download the Smart Sun Pilot Report