Virtual power plant

How will virtual power plant trial fare in Ireland?

Dingle, a small town in Ireland, will be the testing ground for the country’s first virtual power plant. Twenty homes are to be equipped with rooftop solar, battery energy storage and smart technologies — the project is a community-scale trial run to test how the whole system can support the Irish grid as it incorporates more renewable energy resources.

Intended outcomes of the project are reduced peak time grid stress, lowered residential energy costs and further information that can be used to modernise Ireland’s whole grid. The €1.12 million StoreNet project has a planned length of two years and was launched this Tuesday by the International Energy Research Centre (IERC). The project brings together utilities, renewable technology suppliers and network operators — Electric Ireland, Solo Energy and ESB Networks respectively.

Project operators intend to test battery energy storage from more than one supplier to determine which work best to reduce costs while producing the most power, whilst seeing how they interact with the grid. Procurement is already taking place, with installation expected in Q2 2018.

Electric Ireland intend to use the project to gain an in-depth understanding of the relatively young virtual power plant technology, to leverage this knowledge across larger scale grid applications. They will be collecting user data from a combination of their own existing monitoring technology and Solo Energy’s enhanced contributions to the information system.

Dingle has been selected by ESB Networks as a demonstration project location, of which StoreNet is only the first. They chose this area over other potential contenders due to its relatively isolated peninsular location, the diverse range of homes, the mixed population density including a more concentrated urban centre with more dispersed surrounding rural dwellings and a particularly resilient local grid. Homes both with and without existing rooftop solar systems are eligible to take part in the StoreNet and a number of residents have already expressed interest in taking part.

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