Virtual Power Plant: how to increase the safety of energy system

The main objective of VPPlant is to run a fully functional virtual power plant in Poland. This term represents a service of aggregation and capacity management of so-called “negawatts” (energy that could have been used but was saved instead) produced by active energy consumers.

The concept of virtual power plants is to reward those consumers who choose to share their ability to move the power consumption from peak hours, when the energy on the wholesale energy market is the most expensive (it is in biggest demand). Such services are referred to as Demand Side Response (DSR) and are popular in many developed countries (eg. USA, Japan, France, Britain, Australia). Power reduction is mostly provided by industrial customers, commercial buildings and facilities administered by public institutions.

In Poland, services such as DSR were previously available only to the largest energy consumers in tenders carried out by the PSE (Polish distribution system operator). Such services could soon be also provided by other, smaller customers. A new project was announced in July 2016 for functional solutions of the power market in Poland. The Ministry of Energy took into account the structure of the power market, which will create possibility for the development of more robust DSR services.

According to our estimates, the potential combination of DSR for industrial facilities and large volume buildings can bring the Polish energy system up to 1 GW of intervention power. The cost of building a traditional power plant of such power is incomparably greater than the creation of the corresponding virtual power plant. However, as yet no attempt was made to undergo such a project in Poland.

As part of creating a virtual power plant VPPlant already provides an Enabler DSR service, thanks to which energy efficiency in buildings such as supermarkets, shopping centers, office buildings, cinemas, sports halls and swimming pools is increased. The company is working on developing technology which could bring DSR service to the swimming pools and office buildings (project oBEMS).

Once DSR services are introduced in Poland, VPPlant will represent their clients before the distribution system operator in order to sell “negawatts” created by the customers.