Two years ago, Enbala posted a blog that posed a proverbial 64 dollar question. Noting that “
Guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research writes about the virtual power plant market in Europe.
Europe, considered the birthplace of the virtual power plants (VPPs), is pushing the envelope on the concept. The continent is adapting platforms to provide new and more sophisticated capabilities to maximize the value of flexibility resources while opening doors to new value streams linked to creative ancillary service markets and real-time energy trading.
Historically, the European VPP market has centered on renewable energy integration. While this remains the case today, a shift is underway to learn from other evolving VPP markets in Canada, Australia, and Japan. The new focus includes integration of demand side resources as well as energy storage and EVs. Today, virtually anything that produces, consumes, or stores electricity (or energy) is a candidate for VPP inclusion.
Guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research writes about the evolution of the virtual power plant market in Australia.
Australian consumers boast one of the highest per capita consumption rates of electricity in the world (even greater than the U.S.). These consumption levels translate into flexible load resources ideal for aggregation and optimization into virtual power plants (VPPs).
What is a VPP? Think of it as a conglomeration of many distributed energy resources (DERs -- loads, but also generation, batteries and electric vehicles -- that can be combined into a pool whose sum of parts’ value is far larger than these DER assets offer individually. With sophisticated artificial intelligence software, these resources scattered across the grid can be combined “virtually” to provide the same services as a traditional 24/7 power plant -- but at much lower and environmental cost.
Guest blogger Peter Asmus of Navigant Research posts this week about the vast potential for virtual power plants and distributed energy resources in Japan.
The first solar PV cell made in Japan was in 1955; the first solar PV panel was connected to the Japanese grid in 1978. Japan emerged as the global leader in solar cell production in 1999 and then solar power generation in 2004. Though solar PV provided only a small portion of Japan’s overall energy supply, it showed that the country’s regulators were investigating distributed energy resources (DERs) well before other markets globally.
Japan is at a crossroads. How does one leap into the future epitomized by the concept of the Energy Cloud while simultaneously maintaining the centralized generation status quo? The country is exploring how virtual power plants (VPPs) can help straddle this chasm, serving as a bridge from the past to the future.
If you’re like most people who’ve gone to a conference lately – or read this blog from its inception – you’ve already heard warnings about what could happen to grid voltage and stability when stray clouds waft over neighborhood solar arrays and block PV generation. The sudden drop of renewable power is what many people point to as the key challenge of variable generation resources.
After all, that’s why utilities are looking for ways to “firm” renewable generation, which is the process of backing variable resources up with some combination of fast-ramping power or demand-side management to jump in when power production subsides. But, while loss of power gets most of the attention, over-production is an equally daunting challenge for grid operators.
When it comes to planning for distributed energy resources (DERs), the State of California is one to watch. In 2015, major electric utilities submitted extensive plans for integration of distributed energy resources (DERs), with special focus on how such technologies will change planning for the last-mile distribution system and what process changes will be necessary.
Not long ago, one of the largest electric utilities in California told me they have 180,000 generating sites, and they expect this to almost triple by 2025. That’s just one of many reasons I believe no grid optimization can truly occur without distributed intelligence and control in grid-edge devices.
Hybrid storage – the process that leverages the flexibility of behind-the-meter resources to support grid services – is dramatically less expensive than other generation or storage options, plus it has other benefits. On the price side, Enbala has found that our hybrid storage solution typically costs as much as six times less than peaker plants and more than a third less than utility-scale storage options. By the numbers, that means utilities would spend some $900 per kW for a peaker, $500 per kW for utility-scale battery storage and $150 per kW for Enbala.
Distributed energy resources (DERs) like household solar and battery storage could provide enormous support to large and small electric systems that are now threatened by rising penetration of these technologies. DERs bring new capabilities and value. But, here’s the problem. Few jurisdictions facilitate distributed energy participation in grid markets to promote grid reliability and power quality.
Anyone who’s seen the California ISO “Duck Curve” knows south-facing roof-top solar is not particularly good for utilities. The problem, which appears so clearly in the eloquent graph below, is that daily peak continues to grow, so utilities still have to build out new generation, transmission and distribution facilities. But, household solar reduces overall energy sales, and this is where most of the money comes from to pay for the new capacity. Some utilities are referring to this as the “death spiral.”