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 Pilot.

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 Pilot.

 
 
 

The Challenge

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

Fifteen homes on a single transformer at a greenfield development in Broome were offered heavily discounted solar & battery systems under Smart Sun, a joint initiative between Horizon Power and LandCorp. Homes were equipped with various brands of inverters, batteries, sensors and demand response enabled devices (DREDs).

 
 

The Goal

With the Smart Sun pilot, 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 deployed 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 pilot, facilitating smooth communications and operation.

The distribution transformer was 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 allows the client establish closed loop control of the local network via SwitchDin’s Stormcloud cloud platform.

 

Project snapshots: SwitchDin VPP management platform

Easing pressure on the network: Control of household assets - including batteries - helps 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 pilot 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 pilot will run until 2020. 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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