Germany-headquartered and Shell-owned sonnen has announced that its virtual power plant (VPP) has reached capacity of 250MWh, claimed to be the largest in Europe to date.
The VPP consists of tens of thousands of sonnenBatteries throughout Germany, states sonnen, which are intelligently controlled and can be used as large-scale storage.
The company hopes to reach the 1GWh mark in the coming years, providing a “decentralised buffer storage” that can be used to balance supply and demand on the electric grid, stated the company in a press release.
sonnen is calling the milestone a new standard “in the digital networking of private households and renewable energies”.
Previously the title of ‘Europe’s largest VPP’ was claimed by Elisa earlier this year in February, when the telecommunications company was awarded a grant by the Finnish government for development of a 150MWh VPP.
The sonnenVPP is currently providing capacity, for example, to compensate for frequency fluctuations (primary control power) in the transmission grid or to participate in electricity trading on the exchange.
According to the company, the system can shift the time at which solar power is fed in so that it is compatible with the grid and, for example, the midday peak is stored by PV systems instead of adding to congestion.
Customers within the VPP also have access to services via intelligent electricity contracts such as sonnenFlat and receive a share of the proceeds.
“The energy transition must not get stuck in the power grids. With our virtual power plant, we have an instrument for intelligently integrating PV systems, e-cars or heat pumps into our power grids. Our power plant is already in people’s homes and doesn’t need any additional space,” stated Oliver Koch, CEO of sonnen.
After proof of concept within the transmission system, sonnen hopes to use the VPP to offer grid stabilisation services in the distribution grid, where bottlenecks from new PV systems, e-cars and heat pumps are already a concern.
Added Koch: “Currently, many processes in the power grids are not yet digitised or regulated accordingly, so that we are far from exploiting the potential of our technology. However, we are doing valuable pioneering work here, e.g. with our own smart meter rollout.”
The acceleration is an extension of their collaboration and will see the installation of a further 10,000 intelligent metering systems (iMSys) to sonnenCommunity, an independent energy community.
Fully acquired by Shell in 2019, sonnen also operates virtual power plants in the USA, Australia and Italy. Earlier this year saw company join the VP3 alliance in the US, which hopes to develop and scale up VPP technology.