Although I'm not sold on the terminology (there is nothing virtual about steel, silicon or lithium in the ground and “power plant” makes more sense in describing how the grid operated over the previous 100 years, not the 100 years to come) VPPs are becoming an increasingly attractive solution to improving the integration of variable renewable energy assets into electrical grids.
With power generation shifting from centralized fossil fuelled generation towards decentralized generation, there is an emerging need for energy flexibility on the grid. VPPs can combine and manage all solar and wind sources along with energy storage and electric vehicles, with a single control system, thus enhancing flexibility and grid reliability.
This is the capital's first virtual power plant and should be up & running by the winter. It will use rooftop solar and batteries to provide grid balancing services while generating income for home owners. It will be interesting to see how this can be scaled up from 40 homes and what type of investment this project attracts.
UK Power Networks will be able to remotely access the battery systems, in order to discharge at times of high demand through battery company, Powervault. In return for their grid services, residents will receive financial compensation. “The new flexibility contract is the first time in London that people with solar panels and battery storage installed at home will be paid to support the distribution network in this way,” said UK Power Networks in a statement released. It added, “The renewable energy generated by solar panels during the day can discharge from their batteries for a minimum of half an hour at a time in the evening and, in the future, could help to reduce the need for new network infrastructure, such as building substations and laying cables.”