Virtual Power Plant

How to network distributed energy resources

A Virtual Power Plant is a network of decentralized, medium-scale power generating units such as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units, wind farms and solar parks as well as flexible power consumers and batteries. The interconnected units are dispatched through the central control room of the Virtual Power Plant but nonetheless remain independent in their operation and ownership. The objective of a Virtual Power Plant is to relieve the load on the grid by smartly distributing the power generated by the individual units during periods of peak load. Additionally, the combined power generation and power consumption of the networked units in the Virtual Power Plant is traded on the energy exchange.

How does a Virtual Power Plant work?

A Virtual Power Plant consists of a central IT control system and distributed energy resources (often renewable energy resources like solar, wind, hydropower, and biomass units) as well as flexible power consumers. By networking all participating units through a remote control unit, it establishes a data transfer between the central control system and the participating units. The central control system is then able to monitor, forecast, and dispatch the networked units.

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What is the objective of a Virtual Power Plant?

A Virtual Power Plants aims at smoothly integrating a high number of renewable energy units into existing energy systems. It does so by offering flexibility coming from all networked units (e.g. ramping up and down power production and power consumption on short notice for frequency control). Additionally, power traders within a Virtual Power Plant are able to use live data to enhance forecasting and trading of renewable energies. As a result, Virtual Power Plants gradually take over the role of traditional power plants – selling their output on wholesale markets and assuming responsibility for a balanced grid.