UK Creates First ‘virtual power station’ Using Domestic Panels

UK Power Networks has announced it intends to launch London’s first ‘virtual power station’ using only domestic solar panels and Powervault batteries. it intending to use solar panels and a fleet of batteries at approximately 40 homes across the London Borough of Barnet.

The theory is simple: There are already a lot of solar panels atop people’s roofs generating electricity. Adding batteries to the equation means that the generated electricity can be stored for use later on, when it’s dark or when the clouds come in.

Generate enough electricity, however, and sometimes you simply won’t use it all, at which point it’s better to sell it back to the grid.

However, if you link a number of batteries together, a utility and electricity supplier such as UK Power Networks can instruct the group of batteries to discharge their stored electricity and relieve pressure on the electricity network in high demand situations such as during peak times, creating a ‘virtual power station’.

Residents will sign a flexibility contract which will allow UK Power Networks to tap into their battery stored electricity, paying the residents for the privilege.

UK Power Networks’ new virtual power station comes off the back of a successful trial of the technology back in February of this year that made use of 45 Powervault batteries which were remotely controlled to minimize consumption during evening peak hours — a move which reduced household evening demand by around 60%.

Powervault will install 40 of its 8 kilowatt-hour (kWh) batteries and will be powered by either solar or off-peak electricity from the grid. There is also the hope that the virtual power station could reduce the need for additional grid infrastructure.