Thursday, November 7, 2019

Finance: The Potential for Virtual Power Plant Technology

No wind? No sun? This power plant solves renewable energy's biggest problem (CNN Business)

Virtual power plants could solve one of renewable energy's most vexing challenges: the weather.

(Courtesy ESIG)
By supplying electricity from renewable sources even when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing, virtual power plant technology could help tackle the climate crisis.

Conventional power plants can account for fluctuations in demand and supply by, for example, burning more coal, said Phil Taylor, professor of energy systems at Newcastle University in England. But clean energy sources, such as wind farms and solar plants, are weather dependent and therefore much more difficult to control, he said.

Virtual power plants attempt to solve that problem by connecting disparate sources of renewable production, generation and storage. By pooling those resources, engineers can make them behave like a conventional power plant.

Virtual power plants could over time make a considerable contribution in the transition to a low carbon future, but they are not without weaknesses, Taylor said.

For example, the number of entities involved in a virtual power plant introduces complexity in that separate commercial agreements are needed for each one. They also rely heavily on software systems for data collection and communication, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks.

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