OBO Bettermann's head office is located on the southern edge of the Ruhr area, the symbol of an age characterized by coal and steel. The company has been based in the city of Menden for more than 100 years and is what is commonly known as a hidden champion. OBO is now represented at more than 60 locations worldwide and produces cable trays and ducts for a wide range of applications in commercial and industrial installations.
Behind the main building is one of the two emergency backup generators utilized by Next Kraftwerke to provide secondary reserve capacity to the power grid. If the frequency of the power grid deviates too much from 50 Hertz, Next Kraftwerke activates decentralized power generators such as OBO's emergency power generators via the control center of the Virtual Power Plant in order to compensate for the fluctuations. These occur, among other things, when the sun and wind do not feed in to the extent predicted. Up to 500 kW of the Menden facility are held on standby in the control system of Next Kraftwerke's Virtual Power Plant as power that can be activated if necessary. With a total output of 600 kW, the container aggregate - manufactured by Polyma - has slightly more power than is reserved for the Virtual Power Plant in order to supply power for the adjacent buildings if necessary.
In addition to the permanently installed genset, OBO Bettermann also runs a second emergency power generator. This mobile unit, which looks like a mixture of a camper van and a market stall, stands behind one of the large production halls. As a rule, the unit is permanently wired to the Next Box. If necessary, the emergency power generator can also be used at another location on the site. To do this, it simply has to be checked out through the customer portal of Next Kraftwerke through an online checkout form. This way, the control center of the Virtual Power Plant is informed that the plant is not available for the provision of ancillary services. "Checking out one of the plants is done quickly and conveniently. It is also practical in this context to be informed by a mobile message when a control reserve activation is taking place - even if it wasn't necessarily needed at three o'clock in the night, if it were up to me" says Georg Schelp, the responsible technician at OBO Bettermann, cheerfully.
The start of selling control reserve to the grid via Next Kraftwerke was uncomplicated. "The connection of the two backup generators to the Virtual Power Plant went smoothly. Our service provider for electrical engineering took care of this. So this task was completed quickly. Also the coordination with the technical department of Next Kraftwerke to prequalify the aggregates for the control reserve markets was a piece of cake".
In addition to the additional revenue that OBO Bettermann receives from the provision of control reserve capacity and the actual activation, the activations of balancing energy have an additional useful effect. Schelp explains: "In addition to the balancing energy revenues, the individual activations can also be used without any problems as test runs for our emergency power generators. In doing so, we win twice by integrating our generators into the Virtual Power Plant. On the one hand financially through the revenues we gain and on the other hand because we save ourselves additional work for test runs - that's quite practical."