World’s First Virtual Power Plant opens in Utah

A groundbreaking solar energy solution is set to be completed next year, and its developers claim it could rank as the largest virtual power plant of its kind in the United States. Soleil Lofts, an under-construction luxury apartment complex in the Utah city of Herriman, announced Tuesday that it will host the largest renewable energy setup of its kind. The 600-unit complex, a mix of one-to-three-bedroom apartments, will feature five megawatts of solar panels. Each unit will also host a Sonnen EcoLinx battery to store the energy, combining together to offer 12.6 megawatt-hours of storage.

Virtual power plants could offer a blueprint for how to roll out solar energy on a larger scale. As opposed to the traditional grid setup where a giant power plant provides energy to several smaller homes, in a virtual solar power plant all those homes generate and store energy. The energy is then shared around the community as it is needed, and the battery ensures that it’s always available even when the sun is not shining. There’s no single point of failure, it’s scalable, and the whole area benefits regardless of their house’s ability to contribute.

The group refers to the energy storage project as “the largest installed and operational utility managed residential battery demand response solution in the United States.” “This project is the United States’ first large scale, utility controlled residential VPP community in, for immediate implementation — a cooperative approach between Wasatch and Rocky Mountain Power, the local utility,” Blake Richetta, chairman and CEO of battery provider Sonnen, tells Inverse.

“The combination of solar and long-lasting, safe, intelligent energy storage managed by the local utility is an essential component to the clean energy grid of the future,” Richetta said in a statement. “The solar industry should find inspiration in this extraordinary project, as it provides a blueprint for the future of grid-optimized battery storage.”

Far from hoarding energy for individuals, a virtual solar power plant could spread around zero-emissions energy, so it reaches more people than ever. There’s even room for over 100 electric car chargers to fuel the future of transportation in the area. The Wasatch Group real estate team developing the project expects the first residents to move in by September 2019 and the final building to finish construction by December 2020.

Virtual solar power plant is a concept that could make a huge impact in addressing energy shortfalls in Nigerian residential neighborhoods and communities. Imagine being able to switch from grid supply to the VPP when outages occur or even derive constant supply from the VPP. An interesting feature of the system is that it is scalable; when more houses are added or when average consumption increases, the capacity can be scaled up.

Source: Inverse

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