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Virtual power plants

VPP operators can pool and trade production from thousands of small-scale generators, municipalities and microgrids can optimize their energy networks, and industries can cut their energy costs by 5-10 percent - all through ABB Ability™ solutions for virtual power plants

More people, more energy, more renewables

Virtual power plants, also known as virtual power pools (VPP), are fast becoming a driving force in the power industry, due to rising demand for energy and the global turn to renewables.

By 2025 there will be 1 billion more people on the planet, all requiring electricity. And by 2040, 60 percent of the power generated worldwide will come from renewable sources, almost half of which from wind and solar photovoltaic. Much of this solar and wind power will be generated by small-scale producers - individuals, businesses and municipalities.

As a result, the need is escalating for virtual power plants that combine multiple, geographically dispersed production units into a single optimized entity that can plan and adjust production dynamically and trade intelligently on the energy market.

Together, they do more and do it better

A virtual power plant/pool is a collection of power generation sources, energy storage devices and demand-response participants located in a distributed energy grid.

Almost any power generating technology can be in a VPP, including biogas, biomass, combined heat and power (CHP), micro CHP, wind, solar, hydro, power-to-heat, diesel engines and fossil fuel.

Energy storage facilities can also be incorporated into a VPP. Any type of energy storage technology can be applied, including batteries, thermal storage, compressed air or pumped storage.

Municipalities, microgrids and industry

Typically, VPPs pool production from tens, hundreds or even thousands of small and medium-sized renewable energy plants into a network that has the scale and flexibility to participate in the electricity market.

But they also serve other applications as well. ABB solutions enable municipalities to optimize and manage their electricity, steam and heat production from multiple sources and to buy and sell energy when prices are advantageous.

Microgrids, which traditionally rely on costly and emission-producing diesel and gas generators, can integrate renewable sources and maximize their use by switching to fossil fuel only when needed and in real time, should poor weather or high demand require.

Energy-intensive industries that generate their own electricity are also realizing the benefits of virtual power pools. By combining production planning, energy management and energy trading they can reduce their energy costs by 5-10 percent, without changing production targets or delivery deadlines.

And conventional multi-unit power plants can improve their flexibility, reduce fuel consumption and lower their carbon dioxide emissions by pooling the units internally to optimize the performance of the plant, much as a virtual power plant.

Central control and optimization

The goal of a VPP is to operate its pool of units optimally and cost effectively and to generate maximum revenues for its participants by bidding informedly and smartly on the energy trading market.

ABB has the expertise, hardware and software that cover the entire scope of VPP operations

ABB Ability™ Energy Optimization for Virtual Power Plants allows VPPs to do this. It provides central control and optimization, links energy sources with markets, performs day-ahead and intra-day forecasting, and issues and updates commitment schedules to pool participants. The technology is highly customizable and scalable, enabling VPP operators to rapidly expand from a few units to thousands, seamlessly and without interruption to operations.

 

One of Europe’s biggest VPPs
The ABB solution for the Next Kraftwerke VPP links more than 4,500 producing and consuming units in eight countries in Europe. The network has a production and trading capacity of around 3,200 MW of renewable energy, and has grown seamlessly from a few units in 2009 to one of the largest in Europe, thanks to the solution’s scalability.

Balancing municipal energy production
Integration of a hybrid energy system for the German city of Trier. The ABB solution provides intraday optimization for balancing power production in an energy system comprising wind power, solar PV, biomass, combined heat and power, battery storage, DC charger network for electric vehicles, hydropower and pumped storage, and consumers.
Optimizing an island microgrid
Optimization and simplification of a diesel / wind / solar-powered microgrid for the island of Aruba in the Caribbean. The ABB solution enables the microgrid to use more renewable energy by switching to diesel only when renewable generation is insufficient. It provides day-ahead optimization for the production schedule based on load and weather forecasts, improves grid stability and power quality, and significantly reduces the island’s carbon emissions.

Industrial sites 

ABB has provided VPP solutions for energy-intensive industrial plants, enabling them to significantly decrease energy costs by raising or lowering production rates according to the cost of electricity - without affecting overall production volumes and delivery deadlines.

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