USA: Using software systems, virtual power plants (VPPs) can combine a rich diversity of independent resources into a unified network via sophisticated planning, scheduling, and bidding of distributed energy resource-based services.
Driven by the integration of variable generation resources – especially from wind and solar – a viable VPP market is emerging and will see substantial growth, from a relatively small base, over the next several years. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, annual worldwide revenue from VPPs will grow from less than $1 billion in 2013 to $3.6 billion in 2020, under a base forecast scenario.
Under a more aggressive forecast scenario, VPP vendor revenue could reach $4.3 billion by 2020.
“The growth in distributed, renewable power generation sources requires additional supply and demand flexibility to accommodate fast ramping periods and corresponding supply forecast error,” says Peter Asmus, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “VPPs represent an ideal optimization platform for the coming transformation of the power grid.”
Rate-basing utility prerogatives still offer deployment barriers for both VPPs and the complementary market for microgrids. Although recent regulatory reforms are moving in the direction of a greater reliance on distributed energy resources, centralized fossil fuel power plants will still dominate electricity markets for quite some time. Compared to traditional coal and natural gas-fired plants, VPPs offer a low-cost platform to squeeze more value out of existing infrastructure assets and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with peaking power plants.