Virtual power plant
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A virtual power plant (VPP) is a cloud-based distributed power plant that aggregates the capacities of heterogeneous Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) for the purposes of enhancing power generation, as well as trading or selling power on the open market. Examples of virtual power plants exist in the United States, Europe, and Australia.
A virtual power plant is a system that integrates several types of power sources to give a reliable overall power supply. The sources often form a cluster of different types of dispatchable and non-dispatchable, controllable or flexible load (CL or FL) distributed generation (DG) systems that are controlled by a central authority and can include microCHPs, natural gas-fired reciprocating engines, small-scale wind power plants (WPP)s, photovoltaics (PVs), run-of-river hydroelectricity plants, small hydro, biomass, back-up gensets, and energy storage systems (ESS).
This system has benefits such as the ability to deliver peak load electricity or load-following power generation on short notice. Such a VPP can replace a conventional power plant while providing higher efficiency and more flexibility. More flexibility allows the system to react better to fluctuations, but whose complexity requires complicated optimization, control, and secure communications.
According to a 2012 report by Pike Research, VPP capacity would, from 2011 to 2017, increase by 65%, from 55.6 gigawatts (GW) to 91.7 GW worldwide, generating from $5.3 billion to $6.5 billion in worldwide revenue in 2017. In a more aggressive forecast scenario, the clean-tech market intelligence firm forecasts that global VPP revenues could reach as high as $12.7 billion during the same period.
Virtual power plants represent an 'Internet of Energy'", said senior analyst Peter Asmus of Pike Research. "These systems tap existing grid networks to tailor electricity supply and demand services for a customer. VPPs maximize value for both the end user and the distribution utility using a sophisticated set of software-based systems. They are dynamic, deliver value in real time, and can react quickly to changing customer load conditions.
A virtual power plant is also a cloud-based central or distributed control center that takes advantage of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and Internet of things (IoT) devices to aggregate the capacities of heterogeneous Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) to form "a coalition of heterogeneous DERs" for the purpose of energy trading on the wholesale electricity markets or providing ancillary services for system operators on behalf of non-eligible individual DERs.
A VPP acts as an intermediary between DERs and the wholesale electricity market and trades energy on behalf of DER owners who by themselves are unable to participate in that market. The VPP behaves as a conventional dispatchable power plant from the point of view of other market participants, although it is indeed a cluster of many diverse DERs. Also, in the competitive electricity markets, a virtual power plant acts as an arbitrageur between diverse energy trading floors (i.e., bilateral and PPA contracts, forward and futures markets, and the pool).
So far, for risk management purposes, five different risk-hedging strategies (i.e., IGDT, RO, CVaR, FSD, and SSD) have been applied to the decision-making problems of VPPs in the research articles to measure the level of conservatism of VPPs' decisions in diverse energy trading floors (e.g., day-ahead electricity market, derivatives exchange market, and bilateral contracts):
- IGDT : Information Gap Decision Theory
- RO : Robust optimization
- CVaR : Conditional Value at Risk
- FSD : First-order Stochastic Dominance
- SSD : Second-order Stochastic Dominance
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Energy markets are those commodities markets that deal specifically with the trade and supply of energy. In the United States, virtual power plants not only deal with the supply side, but also help manage demand, and ensure reliability of grid functions through demand response (DR) and other load-shifting approaches, in real time.
An often-reported energy crisis in America has opened the door for government-subsidized companies to enter an arena that has only been available to utilities and multinational billion-dollar companies until now. With the deregulation of markets around the United States, the wholesale market pricing became the exclusive domain of large retail suppliers; however local and federal legislation along with large end-users are beginning to recognize the advantages of wholesale activities.
California is the leader in green technology, with governmental bodies subsidizing and pushing an agenda that is not shared by much of the rest of the United States. In California there are two electrical markets: private retail and wholesale. California Senate Bill 2X—which passed the California legislature on March 30, 2011—mandates 33% renewables by 2020 without mandating any particular method to reach that goal.
The Institute for Solar Energy Supply Technology of the University of Kassel in Germany pilot-tested a combined power plant that linked solar, wind, biogas, and hydrostorage to provide load-following power around the clock, completely from renewable sources. Virtual Power Station operators are also commonly referred to as aggregators.
To test the effects of micro combined heat and power on a smart grid, 45 natural gas SOFC units (each generating 1.5 kW) from Republiq Power (Ceramic Fuel Cells) will be placed in 2013 on Ameland to function as a virtual power plant.
In August 2016, AGL Energy announced a 5 MW virtual-power-plant scheme for Adelaide, Australia. The company will supply battery and photovoltaic systems from Sunverge Energy, of San Francisco, to 1000 households and businesses. The systems will cost consumers AUD $3500 and are expected to recoup the expense in savings in 7 years under current distribution network tariffs. The scheme is worth AUD $20 million and is being billed as the largest in the world.
- Feasibility, beneficiality, and institutional compatibility of a micro-CHP virtual power plant in the Netherlands
- Smart Grid - The New and Improved Power Grid: A Survey; IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials 2011; X. Fang, S. Misra, G. Xue, and D. Yang; doi:10.1109/SURV.2011.101911.00087.
- "Revenue from Virtual Power Plants Will Reach $5.3 Billion by 2017, Forecasts Pike Research" (Press release). Pike Research. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2017 – via Business Wire.
- Shabanzadeh M; Sheikh-El-Eslami, M-K; Haghifam, P; M-R (January 2015). "Decision Making Tool for Virtual Power Plants Considering Midterm Bilateral Contracts". 3rd Iranian Regional CIRED Conference and Exhibition on Electricity Distribution, at Niroo Research Institute (NRI), Tehran, Iran. 3 (3): 1–6. doi:10.13140/2.1.5086.4969.
- Shabanzadeh M; Sheikh-El-Eslami, M-K; Haghifam, P; M-R (October 2015). "The design of a risk-hedging tool for virtual power plants via robust optimization approach". Applied Energy. 155: 766–777. doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2015.06.059.
- Shabanzadeh M; Sheikh-El-Eslami, M-K; Haghifam, P; M-R (May 2016). "A medium-term coalition-forming model of heterogeneous DERs for a commercial virtual power plant". Applied Energy. 169: 663–681. doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.02.058.
- Shabanzadeh M; Sheikh-El-Eslami, M-K; Haghifam, P; M-R (January 2017). "Risk-based medium-term trading strategy for a virtual power plant with first-order stochastic dominance constraints". IET Generation, Transmission & Distribution. 11 (2): 520–529. doi:10.1049/iet-gtd.2016.1072.
- Shabanzadeh M; Sheikh-El-Eslami, M-K; Haghifam, P; M-R (April 2016). "Modeling the cooperation between neighboring VPPs: Cross-regional bilateral transactions". 2016 Iranian Conference on Renewable Energy & Distributed Generation (ICREDG). 11: 520–529. doi:10.1109/ICREDG.2016.7875909.
- Shabanzadeh, Morteza; Sheikh-El-Eslami, Mohammad-Kazem; Haghifam, Mahmoud-Reza. "An interactive cooperation model for neighboring virtual power plants". Applied Energy. 200: 273–289. doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2017.05.066.
- "The Combined Power Plant: the first stage in providing 100% power from renewable energy". SolarServer. January 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
- "Bijlage persbericht 010/MK – Verleende subsidies – 3. Methaanbrandstoffen op Ameland" [Press release 010/MK appendix – Granted subsidies – 3. Methane fuels on Ameland] (PDF). Wadden Fund (Press release) (in Dutch). 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- BBC Radio 4. Costing the Earth- Electric Island
- Slezak, Michael (5 August 2016). "Adelaide charges ahead with world's largest 'virtual power plant'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-08-05.