Japanese utility Tohoku utilizes NEMOCS to set up Virtual Power Plant

Published: 23. May 2019

At the signing ceremony: Alexander Krautz, Head of Innovation & Development at Next Kraftwerke, and Kazuhiro Ishiyama, Executive Officer and General Manager of the Corporate Planning Department at Tohoku EPCO. At the signing ceremony: Alexander Krautz, Head of Innovation & Development at Next Kraftwerke, and Kazuhiro Ishiyama, Executive Officer and General Manager of the Corporate Planning Department at Tohoku EPCO. Japanese electric utility Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc. (Tohoku EPCO) and Next Kraftwerke have agreed to enter into a basic agreement on a strategic partnership in a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) demonstration project utilizing Next Kraftwerke's VPP-solution NEMOCS. It is the first time that Next Kraftwerke has concluded a basic agreement with a Japanese power utility. Tohoku EPCO is the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue, servicing 7.6 million individual and corporate customers in six prefectures in the Tōhoku region and the Niigata prefecture.

Next Kraftwerke, one of the largest Virtual Power Plant operators in Europe, has developed its software-as-a-service solution NEMOCS to support third parties in establishing their own Virtual Power Plant. NEMOCS can network thousands of decentralized units in order to optimize their operation. It can also process data in real time, leading to benefits such as improved generation forecasting. Additionally, NEMOCS can issue operational commands if needed to steer a fleet of thousands of networked units to follow price or grid signals.

Tohoku EPCO launched the VPP demonstration project in April 2018, and has been working since to remotely control and aggregate power-producing assets distributed throughout the regions, making them function as if they were a single power plant by utilizing IoT and other new information technologies. The energy resources include generators and batteries owned by local governments, companies, households of customers, and others. Through the demonstration project, Tohoku EPCO aims to commercialize the VPP and to develop new services in the future. In order to realize this, Tohoku EPCO wants to further enhance its VPP-related knowledge and technology, such as the ability to control energy resources accurately and precisely. Now, cooperating with Next Kraftwerke and utilizing its knowledge and technology, Tohoku EPCO expects to accelerate the commercialization of the VPP and the development of new services.

The partnership based on the basic agreement is planned for about two years. In a first step, starting in August 2019, Tohoku EPCO will verify the basic functions of the VPP system through remotely monitoring and controlling energy storage devices in Tohoku EPCO’s research and development center located in Sendai City, utilizing Next Kraftwerke’s VPP-solution NEMOCS and its remote control unit Next Box. In a second step, in early 2020, Tohoku EPCO will verify and evaluate the system functions to remotely monitor and control multiple devices by gradually expanding the number of energy resources. Finally, Tohoku EPCO plans to verify the feasibility of commercializing the VPP and developing new services utilizing Next Kraftwerke’s systems. Then, Tohoku EPCO will also seek for the possibility of a further strategic alliance with Next Kraftwerke, including power trading and ancillary services.

“Given the expansion of distributed energy resources in Japan, we are very happy to cooperate with Tohoku EPCO utilizing NEMOCS, our software-as-a-service solution, in pursuing its goal of developing new digital business models to strengthen its position as an innovative integrated energy company,” says Alexander Krautz, Head of Innovation & Development at Next Kraftwerke.

Credit: Tohoku EPCO

Next Kraftwerke

Next Kraftwerke operates one of the biggest Virtual Power Plants in Europe. By utilizing the full potential of digitalization, the company networks thousands of energy-producing and energy-consuming units in the Virtual Power Plant “Next Pool”. Through its technology and trading, clients are able to produce and consume electricity when prices are best for them. By trading their aggregated power 24/7 on different energy spot markets the Virtual Power Plant also makes a substantial contribution to stabilizing the grid by smartly distributing the power generated and consumed by the individual units in times of peak load.