Today’s Solutions: December 05, 2021

As energy blackouts become more common in California, a German energy company called Sonnen believes virtual power plants (VPPs) can solve the issue. Rather than rely on utility companies, virtual power plants involve connected sets of solar panels and batteries that produce and store energy on-site.

The first VVP will be created in Fresno at a 417-unit apartment complex where a system of solar panels and batteries will be linked together, working independently from the grid. This means the lights will stay on even if the grid fails. In theory, this apartment-based VVP system will also make solar energy and storage more affordable for a lot of people.

A renter wouldn’t have to buy a house and spend tens of thousands of dollars more to install their own solar panels. Instead, they would go through the same process of applying for and renting an apartment as they would with any other unit without solar panels. The solar energy comes along with the unit the way a refrigerator might.

A VPP is also 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.

Eventually, Sonnen wants to link up three thousand Californian apartments across seven apartment complexes, which would make it the largest VPP of its kind.

By the way, this isn’t the first time we’ve written about Sonnen. Last September, we wrote about an apartment complex that Sonnen is creating in Utah, which also features a VPP.

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