UK Power Networks to launch London’s first VPP

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Following a trial this February – where battery manufacturer and power aggregator, Powervault and UK Power Networks reportedly saw a 60% reduction in household evening demand through the remote discharge of 45 battery systems in customers’ homes – the two will now work together to create the U.K. capital’s first VPP.

To achieve this, UK Power Networks will install a fleet of battery systems on around 40 homes across the London Borough of Barnet, which are already fitted with a rooftop solar PV array. In total, a combined capacity of 0.32 MWh will be installed via modules coupled with 8kWh batteries .

A spokesperson told pv magaizne that project is expected to be up and running this winter. They added that the capacity will potentially increase over time, and that the batteries are modularly scalable, meaning more can be added on to units as opportunities for expansion arise. They declined to unveil the investment amount, however.

Remote access

UK Power Networks will be able to remotely access the battery systems, in order to discharge at times of high demand through battery company, Powervault. In return for their grid services, residents will receive financial compensation.

“The new flexibility contract is the first time in London that people with solar panels and battery storage installed at home will be paid to support the distribution network in this way,” said UK Power Networks in a statement released.

It added, “The renewable energy generated by solar panels during the day can discharge from their batteries for a minimum of half an hour at a time in the evening and, in the future, could help to reduce the need for new network infrastructure, such as building substations and laying cables.”

The VPP – a novelty for London – has been introduced in line with the Mayor of London’s plans to maintain the city’s strong position in technology development and smart city applications.

Increasingly attractive

VPPs are becoming an increasingly attractive solution to improving the integration of variable renewable energy assets into electrical grids.

Indeed, the technology allows grid operators to circumvent costly grid infrastructure investments, and maximizes the use of the generated renewable energy.

Last year, UK Power Networks laid out its roadmap, ‘A Smart Grid for All’, which compared the impact of the use of smart grids and other distributed means of energy management against those that arose with the advent of broadband internet in the 2000s.

Worldwide, there are a plethora of utilities, start-ups, and power electronics manufacturers that have taken on the challenge of the digitalized integration of variable renewable energy assets, with many projects already in operation across the globe.

In May, for instance, pv magazine reported from Berlin’s Ecosummit on British Moixa a provider of battery storage systems that interlink with one another to balance out varying demands between different households.