Today’s Solutions: October 24, 2021

A German energy storage company by the name of Sonnen is on a mission to prove that the virtual power plant (VPP) could solve major energy problems in the US. To those of you who might be asking what a VPP is, it’s basically an array of connected solar roofs and batteries that uses renewable energy to power buildings even if the grid loses power.

The VPP could become very important in the US, especially since energy blackouts have become more common. In California, energy company PG&E has been responsible for more than 1,500 fires since 2014, so it has announced and implemented rolling blackouts to avoid sparking more fires. In Utah, 1.8 million people were affected by 346 power outages between 2010 and 2017.

To overcome these outages, Sonnen is outfitting a complex of 600 new rental apartments in Utah with Sonnen products that work together to power the VPP. When complete, the community will be the largest operating VPP formed by residential batteries in the US.

The benefits of a VPP extend beyond just avoiding outages. A VPP is easier for a utility to deal with than individual solar panels because a VPP operates as one asset rather than several individual homes. If too much energy is produced from the solar panels, it can simply be stored in residents’ batteries. And because the energy from the solar panels is stored locally, the utilities can draw from batteries during peak hours.

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