A smarter grid with the Virtual Power Plant

14 September 2018

As Britain’s greenest energy company, we’re on a mission to create a greener Britain. That’s why we harness our customers’ bills to build and maintain our fleet of windmills and sunmills, providing much needed green energy to the grid.

But what happens when there’s too much wind and solar generation? Where does all that energy go? And what happens when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining? That’s where the Smart Grid, otherwise known as the Virtual Power Plant (VPP), is helping to make a more stable, greener grid. It’s the future of energy in Britain.

We sat down with Mark Meyrick, Head of Smart Grids, to find out more about this exciting new technology.

What’s it all about Mark, what is the VPP?

It’s a digital control system that links together thousands of businesses, energy generators and energy storage systems. These are all connected wirelessly to a single digital platform, enabling them to work together to create a more sustainable and secure energy grid – with balanced supply and demand.

How does the VPP work?

It uses algorithms to monitor the energy grid, showing us where we could improve stability. With this information we can identify opportunities to make small adjustments that have a big impact. It may be something that seems insignificant, like dimming the lights for just sixty seconds when there’s a high demand on the grid. But when you’ve got thousands of businesses plugged in, it can make a huge difference.

Why’s the VPP good for a business?

It’s good for a number of reasons. There’s the financial one of course - by making changes to the amount of energy they use and the times at which they use it, businesses can make significant savings on their energy bills. They may also have a battery or electricity generation system that’s not being used, if we can call on that at various points, we can pay them for using it. Then there’s the wider impact of a smarter energy grid. With energy storage systems connected, there’s the ability to provide round the clock renewable energy – it’s sustainable business that’s better for the planet.

Why have we provided the VPP?

The energy grid has an increasing need for flexibility, as the amount of renewable generation going into it is getting bigger. This is great, as there just isn’t a future in fossil fuels. The damage that they’re doing to the planet is widely recognised and the more green energy we can produce the better. The problem is getting the right amount at the right time, as you can’t expect the weather to be completely consistent. Energy storage is just one part of the answer. The bigger solution is the Virtual Power Plant.

As Mark says, it’s important we continue finding solutions in the fight to tackle climate change, and we can only do that with the help of our customers. As a not-for-dividend company, we get to put all the money we make into our mission, so with us you don’t just get energy with a green source, you get a green outcome too. It’s what makes us different from other green energy suppliers. And with technology like the VPP, it’s another big step towards creating a sustainable world – one where renewable energy delivers our power needs come rain or shine.

It’s easy to sign up to our VPP – simply contact smartgrids@ecotricity.co.uk or call us on 01453 790172.

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