Artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning technology is enabling the development of advanced Virtual Power Plants (VPP) that maximise guaranteed financial returns from battery storage.
Tomorrow’s innovation is available today from Centrica Business Solutions, which is a global leader in developing and operating AI controlled smart grids. In 2018 we launched the world’s most advanced Virtual Power Plant.
Our patented AI VPP solution monetises distributed energy flexibility from the most lucrative markets. It goes way beyond trading battery stored solar power in Demand Side Response (DSR) Markets – to capture multiple market opportunities using multiple assets.
Due to our proven world-class technology and trading capabilities, we have the confidence to guarantee financial returns for VPP battery assets, no matter what happens.
Our AI Virtual Power Plant solution is a pioneering, market-leading solution for three reasons:
1. The VPP deploys a multi-market strategy. Our VPP platform automates energy trading and deploys flexibility in real-time, which means that we can take advantage of the complete range of market opportunities to dynamically capture the highest returns. We stack revenues to monetise the most lucrative opportunities – from month ahead through to real-time, including demand side response, wholesale markets and grid balancing opportunities.
Trading is fully automated via the AI algorithms, but all decisions are tracked and monitored by our dynamic 24-hour trading team. Detailed operating guidelines are agreed with customers and robust safeguards are in place to ensure that there is no negative impact on productivity or safety and that a customers’ ‘must run’ load is never affected.
VPP participants are able to consume or generate power based on their business requirements, optimal market prices and lower overall energy costs – enabling them to save money, generate income, reduce carbon emissions, improve productivity and secure energy resilience.
2. The VPP comprises a multi-asset flexible energy portfolio. Centrica Business Solutions’ AI Virtual Power Plant can aggregate different types of energy assets from hundreds of sites across hundreds of miles into one smart pool. This portfolio combines battery storage with a mixture of other flexible assets, such as solar, CHP, generators and large industrial loads. The characteristics of these individual assets are very different, but together they are complementary and the sum of parts is greater than the whole.
Each asset has its strengths and limitations: some are faster, others slower; some are better suited to delivering rapid short term bursts of power, while others can meet longer duration power requirements. Our AI software continuously monitors in real time the optimal way to use the strengths of each asset to meet the second-by-second requirements of the grid in the most efficient way. Our agile VPP automates deployment of the best combination of assets that are available for use at any point in time, while respecting the operational requirements of the customer.
3. The VPP guarantees financial returns on a ‘no-lose’ basis. We have the confidence in our proven world class VPP capabilities and are the only supplier to guarantee financial returns for VPP battery assets, no matter what happens. This includes a fixed floor price per MWh and upside payment linked to performance – providing a win-win for battery owners and investors.
Our technological excellence is enhanced by our position as Europe’s number one Demand Side Response provider and as the UK’s largest electricity and gas supplier, with superior access to 27 European wholesale markets. These combined capabilities mean that we have the ability to ‘put our money where our mouth is’ and provide the financial ‘win-win’ assurance to unlock battery investment.
In 2018 we opened the world’s most advanced Virtual Power Plant, which is Europe’s first large-scale, multi-asset clean energy smart grid. The 32MW scalable facility at Belgium’s Terhills leisure park incorporates 18MW of Tesla batteries, combined with a wider flexibility portfolio of other distributed energy resources such as industrial load and generation assets.
The project was implemented and operational within six months. It is delivering balancing services to European transmission system operators, while helping Terhills and other portfolio participants to monetise their sustainable energy investment from selling flexibility in the more lucrative markets.
We’re also enabling utilities companies to run their own VPPs using our AI platform. This includes a partnership with the venturing arm of Japan’s largest power company, TEPCO, which will use the AI platform to aggregate clean energy from various flexible generation and demand assets to provide the transmission system operator with flexibility services for the Reserve market.
Centrica Business Solutions’ award-winning AI deep learning software is at the heart of our advanced Virtual Power Plants – providing the advanced ‘brainpower’ behind the decentralised microgrid. This innovative technology smartly and seamlessly manages and controls a diverse portfolio of hundreds of flexible assets in sub-second response time.
We use intelligent algorithms to forecast and capture wholesale opportunities in real-time. Our AI platform automatically dispatches the optimum combination of flexible assets to capture highest value – all within operational constraints and production planning and matching the real-time demands of the grid. The software automatically visualises and monitors real-time flexibility and then manages and steers assets accordingly, thereby maximising cost savings and revenue generation.
The AI system’s deep neural net has been trained over more than 10 years of running thousands of simulations and managing field data across hundreds of sites. It has the unique capability to fully understand the behaviour of the complex mixed asset portfolio and to minimise battery wear by maximising use of the other assets. This prolongs battery life.
Centrica Business Solutions’ patented AI platform control is used by over 150 of Europe’s largest energy users and offers unique capabilities in high-value reserve markets and wholesale trading markets. These advanced capabilities include:
Although our AI software is cloud-based, it also includes a local computer deck, which provides a key safeguard. Even if communication drops, this controller continues and can override the cloud, thus ensuring that customers’ ‘must run’ loads and productivity are never impacted. We take IT security very seriously and are ISO27001 certified.
As traditional power stations close and the share of variable renewable electricity increases, while power demand for electric vehicles grows, grid operators require more demand-side flexibility to maintain stability and achieve frequency and supply balance. Advanced Virtual Power Plants can meet this challenge, while also enabling businesses to extract maximum value from their rapid response/real-time flexibility. In this way, organisations can benefit from network instability and extreme energy market volatility to counteract steeply rising energy prices.
The creation of decentralised clean energy power grids is a vital resource in tackling climate change and will help societies deliver on ever tougher emissions reduction targets, such as the UK’s 2050 net zero goal. Aggregating hundreds of assets to create Virtual Power Plants can mitigate the need to build new fossil-fuelled power stations, thus supporting decarbonisation of the grid. This is supporting Centrica’s Responsible Business Ambitions, especially our sustainability goal of helping customers to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2030.
Centrica Business Solutions has the proven game-changing AI VPP solution to unlock the best guaranteed ‘no-lose’ financial returns on batteries, while benefiting from a large upside backed by our revolutionary multi-market trading algorithms.
We have unique capabilities that match technological excellence with a world-class dedicated energy trading team and extensive commercial energy expertise. Our mixed portfolio Virtual Power Plants can take battery optimisation and performance to exciting and rewarding new levels.
Louis is an energy specialist, with over 11 years’ experience of leading innovation and driving adoption of new technologies across the full energy lifecycle in the UK and Europe. Louis is the Head of Strategic Sales and Optimisation for Centrica Business Solutions in the UK&I