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What is a VPP?

Many of you would have seen the acronym VPP floating around the energy industry, in AEMO documents and publications like the Integrated System Plan (ISP). So, what is a VPP? A Virtual Power Plant (VPP) is basically an aggregation of resources. These can be generation, storage and controllable load from decentralised sources.  All being coordinated to deliver services to the power grid including electricity, FCAS and other power system services.

Last week battery manufacturer Sonnen reached the magic threshold of 1MW to operate in the National Electricity Market (NEM) and plans to operate a VPP.

The German based company, Sonnen, now owned by Shell, has built a network of customers to allow their Sonnen branded home batteries to participate in the company’s new virtual power plant.  This has been designed to provide frequency control services. The customers will receive a financial benefit through cash payments. Sonnen’s new program will also provide grid stability services.

The VPP branded, sonnenConnect is Sonnen’s first VPP worldwide.

Each Sonnen battery will not be heavily relied on due to the nature of the VPP aggregating all outputs. To operate in the FCAS market, each household will only be required to supply 4kWh of energy to provide the essential grid stability services.

To be eligible to participate in Sonnen’s VPP and rewards program, households will need to have one of Sonnen’s batteries installed, with at least 4kWh of capacity. No additional equipment will be required to allow batteries to participate in the program as Sonnen batteries incorporate the necessary control systems.

Sonnen has chosen Australia to launch its VPP products as Australia is more open to the establishment of VPPs, along with the high uptake of battery storage system installations compared to other parts of the world.

“With the growing uptake of rooftop solar and home batteries globally, utilities are recognising the importance of home batteries in Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) or what is known as demand response, to stabilise the grid when there is a surge in the demand for electricity”, Nathan Dunn, Sonnen Australia CEO said.

He also said “through sonnenConnect, we are rewarding customers who are providing us access to their Sonnen Battery when needed for demand response. Not only will they enjoy being energy independent, Sonnen Battery owners are working together as a community to stabilise the energy grid that connects millions of homeowners in the National Electricity Market.”

Sonnen has established a manufacturing facility at the former Holden factory in Adelaide. This allows Sonnen to be branded Australian made. They plan to use the Australian facility to produce other components and software for the energy industry including electric vehicle charging units.