Developing Alberta's First
Virtual Power Plant
SunAlata Power is developing Alberta's first Virtual Power Power Plant (VPP), starting with a demonstration of 8-10 aggregated DER sites across the province, including integration of several onsite consumer solar PV plus storage projects and distribution-connected solar PV plus storage projects under a single operating platform.
What is a Virtual Power Plant?
A VPP integrates and aggregates decentralized medium-scale power generating units (dispatchable and intermittent) with energy storage systems and flexible power consumers through a Distributed Energy Resources Management System (DERMS). The DERMS platform employs artificial intelligence and customized algorithms to assess real time utility system data and other pertinent information to operate these decentralized assets as if they were a single power plant. This allows these assets to maximize economic return and support grid balancing by participating in the wholesale and ancillary services market when appropriate. Without aggregation and automation, operating in a dynamic and flexible manner is difficult to do for many smaller intermittent generating sources and electricity consumers.
What are the benefits of a Virtual Power Plant?
A unique advantage of solar PV and storage is that it can easily be scaled up and down in size with minimal financial impact, resulting in the creation of an electrical utility system that is less reliant on large centralized power plants and transmission infrastructure. Combined with the dispatchable nature of energy storage and the ability to connect, automate and optimize geographically diffused power resources through IoT platforms, this decentralization is game changer that supports a more resilient, efficient, greener, flexible, and cost effective electric utility system and eanbles more active participation of communities and businesses within Alberta’s utility market.
Specifically, the ability to aggregate Distributed Energy Resource projects will facilitate greater DER market penetration by creating:
Carbon verification & marketing efficiencies
Additionally, the core of the Virtual Power Plant concept is to support greater energy independence for consumers while at the same time offering ancillary services such as dispatchable reserve and demand response that support grid flexibility and balancing. Effective Virtual Power Plants, can lower real time energy and utility costs for consumers and can assist with meeting system peak demand requirements without having to build expensive transmission line upgrades and power plants.
Furthermore, creating a platform to unlock DER’s will provide additional economic and community benefits such as local construction jobs across all communities, revenues for commercial property owners and community organizations, and enhanced environmental outcomes by providing renewable energy through the utilization of brownfield/rooftop locations as opposed to high value agricultural lands.
How Can You Participate?
Virtual power plants require many participants to build the neccesary network of DER's. SunAlta Power is currently in the process of establishing a VPP demonstration initiative in the Alberta market and is seeking consumer sites to implmentment onsite solar PV plus storage systems under Alberta's Microgeneration Regulation, and available land parcels/commercial rooftops to implement small distribution-connected solar PV plus storage projects under Alberta's Small Scale Generation Regulation.