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Moving closer to a decentralized reality

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 725 items added with 352,977 views
  • Aug 20, 2020
  • 792 views

Of course, I understand I am late to the game here, but I've been reading a lot about "virtual power plants" in recent weeks. Several articles from major news outlets have heralded virtual power plants as the future of the electric utility. 

Virtual power plants are essentially decentralized made to defend against all the weaknesses of our existing, increasingly outdated system of centralized power plants and centralized grids. They employ smart grid technology to link up disparate, clean, renewable power generators across a region and create a 24-hour system of consistent electricity generation and distribution. 

As wind farms and home solar panel systems become more popular across the market, virtual power plant technology aims to make it so that these power generators are not operating on an island but creating a resilient electricity structure for the community that can stand up stronger against threats of blackout or cyberattack. 

In a recent Forbes article, Michael Sachdev, CPO for the group Sunrun Inc, said he expects virtual power plants to be a major part of our future. 

“We expect virtual power plants, including aggregated home solar and batteries, to become more common and more impactful for energy consumers throughout the country in the coming years,” Sachdev told Forbes. "The growth of home solar and batteries will be most apparent in places where households have an immediate need for backup power, as they do in California, where utilities are turning off the electricity to reduce wildfire risk.”

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Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Aug 20, 2020

Centralized , decenteralized , microgrid and vertual power plant are confusing items. I want to shed lights to better understanding.

(1) Centralized Power System is an interconnected power system where all generating facilities are directly connected to the elelctric loads ( such as your house, your work office and factories) through transmission and distribution subsystems. Any demand variation anywhere has to be mitigated by immediate actions in generation sustems or transmission and distribution  subststems. Therefore we call them load follower power systems.  

(2) Renewable Energy intermittency changed the concept of load following into generation following. That means one has to shed loads when RE is not enough at a moment.

(3) Or one has to backup RE intermittency through aggregated vertul power plant VPP. VPP may contain demand side managements techniques.

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