Virtual power plant for network control & planning

Regional utility explores ‘non network solutions’

 
Screenshot from a test profile on SwitchDin’s virtual power plant management platform. The client is using this interface to run the VPP in the Smart Sun Proj

Screenshot from a test profile on SwitchDin’s virtual power plant management platform. The client is using this interface to run the VPP in the Smart Sun Proj

 
 
 

The Challenge

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To minimise demand and reverse power flows through a local network transformer with smart, coordinated control customer-side solar, batteries and loads - while improving local network reliability and efficiency.

A dozen homes located behind a transformer at a residential greenfield development in Broome were offered heavily discounted solar & battery systems under Horizon Power’s Smart Sun initiative. Homes were equipped with Fronius inverters various brands of batteries, sensors and demand response enabled devices (DREDs).

 
Screenshot of the greenfield residential development participating in the program.

Screenshot of the greenfield residential development participating in the program.

 

The Goal

With the Smart Sun project, Horizon Power is investigating the viability of smart control of distributed energy resources (DERs) in the form of a virtual power plant (VPP) as an alternative to investment in conventional ‘poles and wires’ solutions. In particular, Horizon Power is exploring how a virtual power plant can reduce infrastructure costs while improving network reliability.

The Solution

Horizon Power will deploy SwitchDin Droplets™ in participating Smart Sun households to provide usage analytics and device control for each site. Droplets™ create a common language for all devices in the project, facilitating smooth communications and operation.

The distribution transformer will also be equipped with a Droplet™ to monitor voltage levels on the network and power flows through the transformer itself. In conjunction with data from the households, this will allow the client establish closed loop control of the local network via SwitchDin’s Stormcloud cloud platform.

SwitchDin’s technology provides the client with device-to-control room visibility & control across all homes and devices involved in the project, helping to inform and shape future planning decisions.

 

Project snapshots: SwitchDin VPP management platform

Easing pressure on the network: Control of household assets - including batteries - will help to reduce stressors on the local network, keeping transformer utilisation within acceptable bounds and stemming reverse power flows.

Intelligence to take action: The client can view aggregate energy consumption across multiple homes involved in the project and take direct action by increasing or decreasing energy consumption or generation at individual sites.

 

Demand reduction with a VPP: A screenshot from SwitchDin’s virtual power plant management portal. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Demand increase with a VPP: A screenshot from SwitchDin’s virtual power plant management portal. (Click to enlarge.)

 

Next steps

The Smart Sun project will run until 2020 with plans to expand further. Outcomes from this initial round will inform network planning and investment decisions for the client going forward. SwitchDin is also developing a customisable rules engine for automation of VPP operation.

 

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