Ontario’s virtual power plant from home solar and storage

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Twenty homes within PowerStream’s territory have embarked upon a project that could change the face of electrical consumption in Ontario.

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CleanTechnica

Twenty homes within PowerStream’s territory have embarked upon a project that could change the face of electrical consumption in Ontario. They are taking part in a pilot project which is probably best understood as Ontario’s virtual power plant for the grid & homeowners.

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“This is the first time a virtual power plant leveraging residential solar + storage is being piloted in Canada using Sunverge technology. The system offers an exciting opportunity for customers to reduce their bill by offsetting their load using solar power and either storing excess energy using an on-site battery or transferring it back to the grid for extra bill credit. Unlike other solar systems, the technology provides the added benefit of outage protection at times when the grid is down, whether the sun is shining or not. At the same time, it provides the utility with the opportunity to aggregate the distributed energy assets and intelligently dispatch them to make the grid more reliable and resilient… quite a win-win situation!” said Project Lead Vikram Singh, of PowerStream.

How Sunverge’s System Works

“As long as the sun is shining bright and there are no clouds, or shade that blocks that sun, solar provides a constant stream of power. If a cloud comes over and or a tree was to shade a panel, you have basically introduced the concept of intermittency, meaning that the power drops,” explained Ken Munson, co-founder and CEO of Sunverge Energy. “On a very large scale, if you have a bunch of solar cells that are generating power this occurs many times throughout the day. This creates operational havoc on the grid. Utilities have to buffer this power, so that there is no impact to you or me, as consumers. The variability has to be taken out, so that it doesn’t cause issues inside the home such as brown-outs.”

Sunverge combines the ability to store electricity for up to eight hours with cloud-based software that can manage the output from many divergent sources. The resulting virtual power plant is unique in that utilities can use it in the same way they currently use peaker plants. This software allows homeowners to dramatically reduce their home electric bills, and gives them additional protection against power outages.

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“Our software is not just UPS (uninterruptible power supply), or self consumption, or peak load reduction. Those are very common feature sets that software companies provide. What we’re doing is delivering a whole suite of energy services from our platform. So not only do we deliver UPS, power reliability, self-consumption and peak load reduction, we also offer all of the ancillary services for the network side of it:capacity; load following; frequency regulation etc. And we are doing it simultaneously. We’re actually solving consumer related issues, while solving network-related issues,” said Munson.

Already In Use On 4 Continents

This technology is already in use on 19 different grid topologies. One of the largest projects is in Auckland, New Zealand, where the company has “285 systems in the ground.” Sunverge is also working with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, in California, and Glasgow Electric Plant Board in Glasgow, Kentucky, and a variety of other sites on four continents.

The PowerStream Project

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“PowerStream is the first Canadian utility to pilot residential storage units in a virtual power plant model like this,” said Munson.

The community-owned energy company provides power and related services to more than 375,000 customers north of Toronto and in  the Cities of Barrie, Markham, and Vaughan. See more at: PowerStream.ca

This project is part of PowerStream’s goal to reduce overall power consumption in its service area by 535,440 MWh by 2020, which is the equivalent of taking more than 62,000 homes off the grid.

PowerStream’s Other Storage Projects

Singh added:

“We believe in the power of renewables and energy storage combined together in a microgrid solution. These systems can be placed anywhere along the distribution line- at a transformer/ feeder or at a commercial or residential customer site. PowerStream has microgrid projects to showcase these possibilities.

  • Microgrid at a Transformer Station/ feeder: We recently broke ground in late August with a grid-scale 500 kWh battery system which will connect to our System Control Centre. Partnering with the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), this project is designed to not only provide black start capability, but also to demonstrate advanced grid automation features along with providing voltage regulation and outage management. See press release: http://blog.powerstream.ca/2015/08/powerstream-begins-building-unique-backup-power-supply-system/
  • Microgrid in a Commercial Site setting: In 2013, PowerStream deployed a microgrid incorporating solar PV, wind and natural gas fired generation, along with three kinds of batteries and EV charging at our head office. Later in 2014, we added the first Canadian commercial implementation of Vehicle-to-Grid technology to the microgrid, using which PowerStream’s head office building can be powered by a Nissan LEAF. Watch a video on our microgrid project:

  • Microgrid on a residential scale: Our latest project involves the deployment of residential solar storage within our service territory. This is the first time a virtual power plant leveraging residential solar + storage is being piloted in Canada using Sunverge technology. The system offers an exciting opportunity for customers to reduce their bill by offsetting their load using solar power and either storing excess energy using an on-site battery or transferring it back to the grid for extra bill credit. Unlike other solar systems, the technology provides the added benefit of outage protection at times when the grid is down, whether the sun is shining or not. At the same time, it provides the utility with the opportunity to aggregate the distributed energy assets and intelligently dispatch them to make the grid more reliable and resilient….quite a win-win situation! See our press release: http://blog.powerstream.ca/2015/09/powerstream-offer-unique-residential-solar-storage-program/

Source: CleanTechnica. Reproduced with permission.

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