GM, Ford, Google partner to promote ‘virtual’ power plants

GM, Ford, Google partner to promote ‘virtual’ power plants

WASHINGTON, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Companies including GM, Ford, Google and solar manufacturers said on Tuesday they will work together to set standards for scaling the use of virtual power plants (VPP), load-relief systems in electrical networks when the supply is short.

Energy transition nonprofit RMI will host the initiative, the Virtual Power Plant Partnership (VP3), which will also aim to shape policy to promote the systems’ use, the companies said.

Virtual power plants bring together thousands of decentralized energy sources such as electric vehicles or electric heaters controlled by smart thermostats.

With customers’ permission, they use advanced software to respond to power outages with techniques such as switching thousands of households’ batteries, such as those in EVs, from charging to discharging mode or boosting appliances that use electricity, like water heaters, to withdraw. their consumption.

VPPs are positioned for explosive growth in the United States, where the Inflation Reduction Act of 2021 created or expanded tax incentives for electric cars, electric water heaters, solar panels and other equipment whose production and consumption can coordinate to ease the network load.

RMI estimates that by 2030, VPPs could reduce US peak demand by 60 gigawatts, the average consumption of 50 million households, and by more than 200 GW by 2050.

Virtual power plants will enable grid planners and grid operators to (better manage) the increasing demand for electricity from vehicles, buildings and industry and ensure that the grid remains reliable even in the face of the ongoing extreme challenges of weather and aging physical infrastructure. ”, said Mark Dyson, managing director of the carbon-free electricity program at RMI.

Rob Threlkeld, director of global energy strategy at General Motors ( GM.N ), told Reuters that VP3 will be able to “show that EVs can become a reliable asset for the retail company and or retail transmission operator” and “can be an asset to a home owner and fleet customer.”

VPPs have already improved grid reliability in countries such as Germany and Australia and in some US states.

During an extreme heat wave last August, California’s wholesale market operator, the Independent System Operator, avoided power outages by calling on all available resources, including VPPs, to deliver power. Google Nest smart thermostats helped lighten the load.

“This will increasingly be required to ensure that the grid remains resilient, that we avoid outages and that we enable the grid to become cleaner and greener,” said Parag Chokshi, director of Nest Renew of Google.

Other founding members of VP3 include Ford ( FN ), SunPower ( SPWR.O ) and Sunrun ( RUN.O ).

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Bradley Perrett

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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