With the expansion of decentralized, renewable sources of electricity, which offer predominantly volatile performance, conventional power plants are increasingly leaving the grid with their “large rotating masses”. As a result, there is a growing need to decentralize the grid services offered by large power plants today, including frequency and voltage maintenance, short-circuit power, bottleneck management and supply reconstruction. One approach to this is virtual power plants, which work primarily when sun and wind do not provide the power demanded by the consumers. At times of regenerative power peaks, the virtual power plant goes off the grid or in the ideal case provides storage capacities.

Today, virtual power plants are mostly made up of a large number of small and medium-sized producers and stores, mainly in residential buildings, which are coordinated by a central control room via remote control.

The Virtual Power Plant Neckar-Alb (VK NA) wants to expand this approach for SMEs, mainly industry, trade and logistics, in three directions.

  • Flexibility (load shifts or modified operating modes) in the operation of buildings, production plants and processes can act as “current storage”, which absorb power from the grid in case of current surplus and feed power into the grid in the event of current deficiency. Because no physical memory is required, these are virtual memories. Together with its own photovoltaic and / or combined heat and power generation, five predominantly medium-sized companies are to be investigated to determine how energy-optimized and, at the same time, grid-based operation can be implemented.
  • Since a remote control of their (production) plants by third parties is generally not an option for companies, the VK NA develops, according to the model of an industrial symbiosis, a method whereby every company remains master of its data and processes. The basis is a cooperation platform, on which the participating companies can exchange both services and can participate together in the electricity exchange. The project is intended to examine the prerequisites for such a platform with a view to a broad rule-based automation; the coupling to the operational production planning (for example, ERP software) is also to be tested using the sample operations.
  • The question of how a small city can assume the role of an aggregator and operate the cooperative platform is also the subject of the investigations.

The aim of the project is to elaborate the foundations for cooperation on the model of an industrial symbiosis and to develop the necessary tools for the operation of such a structured virtual power plant.