Posted by: Heli Antila
As we continue to strive towards the future Solar Economy – where the energy system is based on emissions-free and inexhaustible energy sources and on overall efficiency of the system – we believe that solar energy will become a major source of electricity. However, utilising this resource efficiently and cost-optimally on a large-scale as well as integrating solar energy into the grid requires a sophisticated design, structure, control and operating model. A promising solution for optimising both generation and storage assets, maximising production, and facilitating efficient and balanced distribution of energy to end users is a Virtual Power Plant (VPP).
To explore the solution further, a project called “Intelligent Solar Energy Management Pipeline from Cell to Grid (INTESEM)” has been set up. The objective for the project is to optimise a distributed solar energy system (holistic from cell to grid) in a VPP model. This will enable high photovoltaic (PV) penetration levels and, at the same time, minimise costs. The project team is to design, demonstrate, and optimise an intelligent VPP model with energy storages, which can be expanded also to the new growing energy markets in the future. The project is run by Fortum, and other partners include the back contact module and manufacturing equipment provider Cencorp and the solar inverter and energy storage provider Ferroamp.
What we hope to do is to build a pilot VPP system with four commercial-scale PV plants to be located in Finland and Sweden. The target we are aiming for is a 15% cost reduction per kWh and better value capture for energy with an intelligent system compared to a conventional one.
A major share of the expected cost reductions can be achieved with the help of local energy storage in combination with the PV systems. Local energy storage brings several benefits to VPP operators, such as the possibility to cut production and consumption peaks, provide frequency support and reduce distribution losses. Consumers can increase their self-consumption of PV electricity, buy off-peak electricity, reduce grid fees, and have access to back-up power.
What we see as a result is that PVs could be installed with better cost efficiency, which in turn would enable a wider penetration of solar modules also in the Nordics. The security of supply would increase with increased storage facilities and reduced peaks in the system, which would also lead to more stable electricity prices.
All in all, it is an important step to take in realising the future Solar Economy.