One thing we have learnt this week – mini virtual power plant

DSC_4304A 1oo homes and 150 businesses have been linked together in Cornwall as a mini virtual power plant.  On first reading about this I couldn’t see anything new.  After all nearly a million people throughout the UK act as a mini virtual power plant, including us.   This excludes those with hydro systems or small wind systems etc.  This is a lot of  mini virtual power plant nationwide.

However on further reading this is new.  National grid are modelling the output of the 250 participants as though they were a larger power plant.  The 250 taking part are not linked in any formal sense either physically or financially.  National grid are studying how they use their energy and in particular demand management.  So for example an ice cream manufacturer would switch its freezers off for a short while at peak periods.  It can do so without affecting the safety of the product.  In the houses some that are fitted with batteries, how the people who live in them use energy can be assessed.  For example do people use their washing machines at midday, or when the sun is at its brightest?

National grid are now catching up with the way things are going.  In the future whilst the grid will still have very large power plants (e.g. offshore wind) it will be made up of millions of tiny generators with electricity flying around in all directions.  Understanding who these mesh together is a vital task.

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