Forty London households are having their solar batteries pooled to create the UK capital’s first virtual power station.
Participating homes across the London Borough of Barnet will generate and store electricity from rooftop solar installations. This will be accessed by network distributor UK Power Networks (UKPN) to use in the grid when needed.
UKPN will also pay residents to draw on their stored energy during times of peak demand to relieve pressure on the electricity network.
Solar batteries pooled to transform UK energy market
Daytime electricity generated by solar panels will discharge from batteries for 30-minute periods during evening peak. This process will be controlled by UKPN and in future could reduce the need for new infrastructure like substations and cable.
The technology was successful trialled in February this year. Household evening demand was reduced by an average of 60 per cent.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan asked Londoners earlier this year to help turn the capital into the world’s leading smart city.
UKPN also launched its own vision for the future in 2017. ‘A Smart Vision for All’ wants all customers to generate, store and sell their own solar generated electricity.
The company compares this energy network transformation to the impact of broadband on telecommunications in the early 2000s.
Virtual power plants now part of Australian energy market
The virtual power plant is already an established part of Australia’s electricity market with solar batteries pooled in South Australia, for example.
In 2017, Tesla Powerwalls were installed across Adelaide’s homes and businesses in a trial expected to produce a combined energy total of 6 MW.
In 2018, a second virtual solar power plant was funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). The two-year trial will see solar batteries fitted in 1,200 homes and 10 businesses.
ARENA is also funding a feasibility study involving dairy farmers in the Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. A virtual microgrid would allow farmers to generate and trade the clean energy they produce.
Parkes Shire Council in NSW subsequently wants to build on its existing solar assets to develop a virtual solar network.
FInally, the sonnenFlat system allows users of the German battery to trade and sell energy they produce from their solar installations.