IKEA Microgrid Goes Live. Creates Australia’s Largest Virtual Power Plant

May 25, 2023
The $6.6 million microgrid will power IKEA’s Adelaide location and support the South Australian power grid.

Swedish furniture giant IKEA’s Adelaide, Australia, location is home to more than just affordable furniture and Swedish meatballs. It now hosts what’s being touted as the largest grid-connected urban virtual power plant in the country.

Dubbed the IKEA eleXsys Microgrid, the 1.2-MWh installation includes a rooftop array with 3,024 solar panels and a 3.45-MWh battery that’s the size of three 40-foot shipping containers.

The microgrid’s systems are managed by the eleXsys dynamic voltage control platform and Azzo's EnergyX IoT platform.

Jonathan Ruddick, chief financial officer at Planet Ark Power, the Australian solar, battery and microgrid solutions provider behind the eleXsys platform, said the technology allows the platform to “connect to up to 10 times more energy than solar technology and grid constraints currently allow.”

A collaboration made in Australia

The $6.6 million project was partially funded by a $1.95 million grant from the South Australian government’s Renewable Technology Fund.

Epic Power owns and operates the microgrid, which was developed in partnership with IKEA, Planet Ark Power, SA Power Networks and the South Australian government.

“This microgrid project is the perfect example of collaboration between the business community, industry and government to help shift the dial on clean energy production in Australia,” said Peter Richmond, IKEA Australia’s sustainability lead.

IKEA Adelaide will soon be 100% solar powered

First announced in 2020, with the rooftop PV component energized in February 2022, the microgrid currently supplies 70% of the power needed for the IKEA store.

Phase two of the project, which is expected to be completed by 2025, will see the microgrid meeting 100% of the store’s electricity demand through additional photovoltaics (PV) that will be installed on sustainably sourced timber shade structures across the parking lot.

“IKEA is committed to becoming a circular and climate-positive business,” Richmond said.

The microgrid will also support the grid

The microgrid will also support the South Australian power network by sending excess energy to the grid during times of peak demand. It is expected it will eliminate 890 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

“The microgrid not only maximizes clean energy generation in SA, but also avoids expensive network upgrades and provides grid support to the state’s electricity network, benefitting the wider South Australian community,” said Planet Ark Power’s Ruddick.

Clive D’Cruz, CEO of Epic Energy, added, “Investing in Australia’s first of its type urban microgrid supports our offtake partner IKEA in achieving their climate-positive goals while benefiting the local community through supporting grid stability.”

When phase two is implemented, the microgrid’s partners say the system will be able to deliver even more clean, renewable energy to support the South Australian grid.

The microgrid, which was officially commissioned by South Australia’s Minister of Energy and Mining Tom Koutsantonis, won the Innovation and Collaboration category of the 2022 South Australia Premier’s Energy and Mining Awards.

Track news about microgrids worldwide. Subscribe to the free Microgrid Knowledge newsletter.

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

Exploring the Potential of Community Microgrids Through Three Innovative Case Studies

April 8, 2024
Community microgrids represent a burgeoning solution to meet the energy needs of localized areas and regions. These microgrids are clusters of interconnected energy resources,...

Get the full report.

How Utilities Can Be Microgrid Leaders

PXiSE Energy Solutions explores how microgrids can help utilities leverage diverse DER to better serve their customers and reposition themselves in the energy supply value chain...