The utilities of yesteryear had an obvious solution whenever they needed more power: simply build a new coal- or gas-fired plant. But with carbon emissions out of fashion and growing levels of demand response and distributed renewables on the grid, virtual power plants are stepping in to replace those central generators.
In July, for example, the Taiwan Power Company hired Enel X, the advanced energy services business unit within Italian energy giant Enel, to shore up the Taiwanese grid with a virtual power plant (VPP) made up of assets provided by commercial and industrial clients.
The clients, which include cold storage, food processing, manufacturing and industrial facility operators, are part of an Enel X demand response program that offers payouts for modulating energy consumption in response to grid requirements. One company, Delta Electronics, said it could run its operations off battery power in order to ease the strain on the grid.