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Using a Virtual Power Plant to Help Connect Renewable Energy Sources to the Grid

Renewable energy sources provide a headache for electricity grid operators due to the difficulty of predicting the constantly changing levels of power that renewable sources such as wind and solar generate. To add to the problem is the fact that there are many gigawatts of power produced across hundreds of locations in the form of small scale installations, which prove almost impossible to coordinate and efficiently add to the national grid.

Researchers at the University of Southampton, England, have developed a virtual power plant which can efficiently combine the power generated in small scale renewable energy projects to create a single stable power source. The cooperative virtual power plants (CVPP’s) use an intelligent, multi-agent software to control the variable power being received by the distributed energy resources (DER’s), and stabilise it for use on the grid.

Dr Valentin Robu, who worked on the project, said that “there is considerable talk about how to integrate a large number of small, renewable sources into the grid in a more efficient and cost effective way, as current feed in tariffs, that simply reward production are expensive and ineffective. CVPPs that together have a higher total production and, crucially, can average out prediction errors is a promising solution, which does not require expensive additional infrastructure, just intelligent incentives.”

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com



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