We live in a world where most of what we do in our daily lives involves some form of advanced technology. From how we communicate with one another, to how we work in our careers—each year comes a new and improved innovation that helps us go about our day smarter and more effectively.
Not everyone knows what a virtual power plant is. To explain it in simplified terms, virtual power plants (VPPs) are cloud-based data control centers that accumulate data from a plethora of distributed energy resources (DERs) to provide power to items you use every day in your household, work place or community. Some examples of DERs include battery storage facilities, solar PV plants and facilities or systems that are connected to the grid.
“Software applications and other information technologies — such as sensors, wireless connections and artificial intelligence — will play in enabling the next-generation electrical grid, one that is more capable of seamlessly integrating electricity generated by solar installations, wind farms or next-generation batteries,” said Heather Clancy, Editorial Director at GreenBiz in a recent article.
It has been a decade since German electric utilities company RWE administered one of the first VPPs. VPPs have significantly evolved since then, and like all technology, will continue to develop and grow. Although still learning, since then the industry has really learned what will work and what won’t.
Tesla’s latest Australian battery project is being seen as the world’s largest VPP. The company plans to install solar panels and batteries in almost 50,000 homes over the course of the next five years.
Over the years, Australia has been hit with statewide blackouts. These blackouts were thought to be caused by the surge in solar. Because of this, Australia has become one of the main countries using energy storage. Tesla CEO Elon Musk became part of this discussion, and that’s where the idea came to add solar panels and batteries into homes.
Katie Fahrenbacher, a journalist covering this project and other energy technologies, explains further saying, “Tesla’s VPP will comprise thousands of Powerwall home batteries, but will operate just like a one big Powerpack system—charging up when demand and electricity rates are low and discharging when demand and prices are high.”
The Powerwall are Tesla’s rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that store energy from solar, and the Powerpack is their battery storage system.
The goal for the future is to “go green” when it comes to energy and the we way use it. Building homes that are outfitted with solar panels and batteries could become more popular around the world as these advancements continue—contributing to the green movement.
Renewable energy is an extremely important part in reducing impact on the environment. According to the campaign Buy Clean Energy, electricity generation is the leading cause of industrial air pollution in the United States. With renewable resources, you can still make electricity without producing carbon dioxide. This can benefit us, our businesses and our planet. Below, you can see a few of the alarming statistics this campaign provided on electricity generation and our health.
- 66% of the nation’s sulfur dioxide (SO2), which cause acid rain, comes from electricity generation. According to the American Lung Association, sulfur dioxide triggers asthma attacks in people and contributes to the formation of fine particles, also detrimental to respiratory health.
- 29% of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which react with sunlight to create ground-level ozone and smog, come from electricity generation. According to the American Lung Association, high levels of NOx increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, especially among children.
- Ozone (O3)occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere where it is beneficial. However, ozone in the lower atmosphere creates the urban haze which we call smog. Automobiles and electricity generation are top contributors to ground level ozone. According to the American Lung Association, breathing ozone can lead to shortness of breath, lung inflammation, asthma attacks, and for children who grow up in areas with high ozone pollution, greater risk of lifelong lung disease.
- Mercury is a highly toxic metal that is released from coal-fired power plants. Mercury accumulates in the fat cells of fish and other animals. When humans eat the fish, they are exposed to mercury. Mercury causes permanent damage to the liver and central nervous system, causing loss of motor function, slurred speech, tunnel vision, and loss of hearing.
Effective communication is key in the success of any great endeavor. It’s crucial not only when working with your team on these costly advancements, but also when it comes to how these VPPs will actually work. There are still a bounty of wrinkles that will need to be ironed out before ideas turn into a reality in such green efforts. There is an extensive amount of time and energy that go into ensuring these smart grid deployments are a success, and this all starts with a good foundation of communication.
It’s more important now than ever before to stay relevant and up-to-date with technology that is saving our planet. Gensuite helps by offering a Sustainability & Energy Management suite of applications that can help reduce your company’s carbon footprint as your industry continues to evolve.
- Baseline and track your sustainability footprint; identify trends in consumption, costs, and emissions
- Implement viable reduction projects, track actual cost & savings and share best practices across the organization to replicate the success
- Define resource/CO2/ cost conservation goals and track progress at the site, segment and company level; measure impact of energy/resource reduction projects
- Communicate and report on Carbon Disclosure Project, Global Reporting Initiative, CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, etc.