A community-led medium to large scale virtual power plant (VPP) is where a community finances, builds, owns and operates a group of distributed energy resources (DERs).
A community-owned retailer manages electricity sales, adds other local DERs (like residential solar and batteries) and offers peer-to-peer trading throughout the community network.
Community-led medium to large scale VPP are usually non-profit, financed by the community and are aimed at meeting local demand, delivering cheaper energy and lower emissions. They require a minimum pool of customers, a baseline community electricity load covered by a renewable energy project (such as a solar or wind farm) and work best with a community battery.
For example, Community Energy for Goulburn (CE4G) is a NSW co-operative that owns, controls, manages and operates a 1.8-megawatt solar farm on 2.2 hectares. It sells energy to institutional users at a fixed price over a fixed term, such as 5 or 10 years, in what is called a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Sales can be limited to locals (including co-op members) or expanded if the power project generates more electricity than can be used locally.
Another example of a community-led medium to large scale VPP is the Enova Byron Bay Arts & Industry Estate Microgrid.