Distributed energy resources (DERs) provide us with a reduction in cost to customers and emissions, and more control by consumers of their own power. They can be used individually or aggregated to serve the grid, have paved the way for a two-way flow of energy and allowed the incorporation of new, connected technologies for power generation.
But these eesources need to be orchestrated so that they are optimised and controlled for grid services on a real-time basis. Due to limited and relatively expensive storage options, disparities can quickly lead to unacceptable voltage or frequency shifts.
One approach is to aggregate a number of small generators and responsive loads, and apply information and communication technologies to control them. When effectively implemented, such technologies - which draw together the internet of things (IoT), smart meters, smart thermostats, and advanced management software - can make them work together as if they were one large-scale power station: a virtual power plant (VPP). This creates a major opportunity to not only provide flexibility, but also play a key role in decentralising generation and helping to build resistance into the grid.
The main difference from a centralised power station is that the owners of the assets retain ultimate control, meaning VPP operators must work on a statistical, rather than deterministic, basis. With the progression of the VPP market, the winners will be those who can combine the numerous technology components with the best knowledge of asset owner behaviour.
In this podcast we explore the value VPPs have delivered with key learnings from existing projects, and how technology maturity may be accelerating the VPP use case.