Embracing virtual power plant technology; good for our businesses and our future

Leo Craig, general manager at Riello, points out that your UPS can become a vital source for energy trading as well as an insurance policy against power failure.

Riello UPS has long been a proponent of demand response when it comes to an effective way of tackling the UK’s energy trilemma. With around 20% of the UK’s existing energy generating capacity expected to be lost over the next decade as old power stations close and we become more reliant on renewable energy supplies, that are subject to greater levels of fluctuation, being able to harvest additional energy capacity from the demand side is essential.

Concern around the imminence of capacity decline has seen the government bring forward its Capacity Market (CM) scheme, a key part of its Electricity Market Reform Programme and one that centres around investing in demand side capacity.

There can be no doubt that awareness of demand response as a means of reducing energy costs, boosting sustainability and accessing additional revenue streams via capacity trading is increasing all the time, but there is still room for further promotion of demand response and its benefits to business.

Riello is actively urging businesses and organisations to consider energy storage as a way of helping to reduce pressure on the UK’s power grid. The UK has more than 4GW of stored power in UPS units and this valuable, additional resource can be tapped into to help avert a capacity crisis. With electricity demand set to double by 2050, these methods of demand response will become even more crucial to balance the grid.

Being able demonstrate how the energy storage theory works in practice is always helpful, of course, and that is why the company is highlighting its role in the creation of a ‘Virtual Power Plant’ at the office of KiWi Power, one of the UK’s leading demand response aggregators.

The project, funded by Innovate UK, and led by GS Yuasa Battery Europe and Swanbarton, utilised demand response technology to support KiWi Power’s 20-strong London office.

Using Lithium-ion battery technology from GS Yuasa in conjunction with a Riello UPS device, the virtual power plant works by using power generated from the batteries at peak times instead of using power from energy system operators. The Riello unit used for the system is the MCM20NP model which supports power ranging from 5-12kW and has the capabilities to work with deep cycling batteries such as those built by Yuasa.

Since installation, the system has been operating seamlessly to vary the demand on KiWi’s office in a way which is transparent to office operations. By using our highly-developed UPS hardware, KiWi and Swanbarton have been able to focus on the key commercial aspects of how to capture the rapidly growing revenue opportunities for energy storage.

This project saw GS Yuasa batteries being used in a demand response scenario in the UK for the first time and highlights how well they suit this type of application. The firm has a long-standing track record of developing UPS energy storage units for the Japanese commercial market and, like Riello, has identified massive potential for the units to be taken up in the UK – understanding how effective they are as demand response tools.

There is still a lack of understanding in the market as to how these types of installations work and the multiple benefits that can be reaped from them, our industry has a role to play in educating businesses, along with the government.

What is clear though, is that with the right equipment in place, your UPS can become a vital source for energy trading as well as an insurance policy against power failure. By helping to spread demand across a variety of sources it can also help to keep the cost of electricity down and will help to secure the UK’s energy supply for decades to come.


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