SonnenVPP integrates EVs to stabilise TenneT grid

SonnenVPP integrates EVs to stabilise TenneT grid
Image: 123rf

In an initiative to optimise load with electric vehicles, Sonnen is expanding its Virtual Power Plant (sonnenVPP) to include EVs for the first time. This new unit will provide Dutch-German TSO TenneT access to previously unused storage capacity of EVs from connected households to help stabilise the grid.

After a successful test phase, the technology has now been transferred to everyday households for the first time.

The first vehicles in the TenneT control area have already been integrated into the sonnenVPP and can provide ‘Frequency Containment Reserve’ (FCR). The storage capacity of the EV batteries will be flexibly controlled within 30 seconds to help compensate for load changes and frequency fluctuations in the power grid.

According to sonnen – which develops such energy storage and networking technologies – by using an intelligent charging process, the VPP will not impact the lifetime of the vehicle’s batteries because they will not be discharging.

In the next stage, sonnen intends to add another 5,000 sonnenCommunity households with an EV and a sonnenCharger to its VPP. Together with the sonnenBatteries of the households, this would provide up to 80MW of clean energy to the grid.

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Optimising the grid

TenneT has an FCR requirement of 170MW.

“The energy industry is on the verge of developing an ecosystem of renewable energy that can be compared to the dawning of the internet age. Renewable asssets that have been operating in isolation so far will be networked and therefore capable of realising their full potential,” said Oliver Koch, CEO of sonnen.

“By including electric vehicles in our virtual power plant and using their charging to help balance supply and demand on the grid, we are taking a huge step forward. This means that we can exploit the enormous storage potential of electric cars and thereby help to further reduce CO2 emissions.”

Tim Meyerjürgens, COO of TenneT, shared his thoughts on the power grid of the future: “For the sustainable and secure power supply of tomorrow, it is important that we keep thinking ahead of the energy transition. The integration of electric vehicles into the power grid is an important milestone as we’re responding to the challenges of using available energy in the future.

“The more we feed volatile, highly fluctuating wind and solar energy into the power grid, the need to create new energy storage options to achieve flexibility and stabilize the overall energy system will become greater.”

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Rethinking the EV charging process

The increase in the demand for electric mobility can present a challenge to the stability of power grids. For example, when large numbers of cars in an area are all being recharged simultaneously, this can destabilise the power grid.

Sonnen states how by successfully integrating EVs into their VPP, the traditional charging process is being redesigned.

The first step involves sonnen distributing the charging times of all the connected EVs evenly over an extended duration, avoiding load peaks at certain times of the day. This is based on indications from customers when their cars have been fully charged.

The second step involves compensating for frequency deviations in the power grid, the specifications for which are provided by TenneT. By controlling charging behaviours in this way, it helps stabilize the power grid on two levels without creating restrictions on the use of the vehicles.

Additionally, as part of the sonnen virtual power plant, EVs can take up excess wind power at night so they do not have to be charged with electricity from gas- or coal-fired power plants during the day.

Added Meyerjürgens: “What today are the first e-cars and frequency containment reserve, will soon be millions of these vehicles and a large variety of services that are available for us as grid operators. We are delighted to be launching this enormous storage capacity together with sonnen.”