For over 20 years, Windkraft Simonsfeld has been active in the renewable energy sector, overseeing a broad portfolio of wind farms in Austria, a wind farm in Bulgaria, and a solar park in Slovakia. But it was Windkraft Simonsfeld’s longevity that created a new challenge for the company in 2016.
“Subsidies last 13 years in Austria, and in 2016, an 18-megawatt park became ineligible for an active subsidy,” explains Markus Winter, chief technical officer of Windkraft Simonsfeld. “To continue commercial operations at this facility, we looked for a partner who knew the field and could run an asset profitably without a subsidy. We also wanted work with a provider operating with 100 percent renewable energy, like us. That’s why it was an easy step to trust Next Kraftwerke with the job.”
To reduce the commercial risk, Windkraft Simonsfeld sells the energy it produces in tranches. “We decided to place the energy produced on different markets to protect ourselves from an array of different scenarios. This lets us avoid the risk of selling energy at the wrong time. We spread the risk and get good average prices. Beyond that, we can use information from the markets and from Next Kraftwerke to identify positive price developments and sell energy at the best time,” said Winter describing Windkraft Simonsfeld’s commercial concept.
While part of the energy is sold at an annual price on the futures market, another part is sold at a fixed quarterly price. However, at least 25 percent of the energy produced is sold by Next Kraftwerke traders on the spot markets. “Next Kraftwerke has complete control of the sale. The assets are connected to the Virtual Power Plant and the energy is placed by the traders on the short-term spot markets.”
Many different trading strategies and elaborate prognoses help customers get the best prices. When market prices are negative, the wind turbines can easily be stopped with a simple command from Next Kraftwerke headquarters in Cologne. Operating rules like these are an additional way to optimize average market revenue. For Windkraft Simonsfeld, connecting to the Virtual Power Plant does not require a dedicated Next Box.
“Communication with our assets is conducted over a protocol interface. Linking the systems went off without a hitch. Next Kraftwerke’s technicians were in touch with our IT department and the link was up and running after a quick software update,” adds Winter. Proof of origin is providing an additional source of income from the assets. Part of the power produced by Simonsfeld facilities is sold directly to consumers who have indicated a preference for verified green energy from ecological installations. Windkraft Simonsfeld is a pioneer in generating power from renewable sources, but also a leading example of how green energy is commercially viable without subsidies.