Virtual Power Plant Couples Power, Heat and Mobility


Category: Grid Innovations

Location: Japan

GSEP member: Kansai

Sector coupling is using electricity from renewables for heating and cooling and for electric vehicles (EVs). This transfer of clean electricity is made possible by two factors. First, the growing use of digital technologies (especially connected devices and smart-home management systems) in end-uses increases the electricity system’s flexibility. Second, smart grids, which allow a more precise management of the electricity system as a whole, matching variable renewable energy generation and flexible demand more efficiently.

In Japan, Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) is leading a large-scale demonstration project, along with 15 firms (Fuji Electric Co, Sumitomo Electric Industries, Nihon Unisys, etc.). Named the “Virtual PowerPlant”, it is a network of decentralized energy resources such as batteries, electric vehicles, heat pumps and generators as well as flexible consumers (for heating, cooling, etc.), up to 15 MW. All these interconnected units are dispatched through a central system which aims to smartly distribute the power generated by individual units and relieve the load on the grid during peak hours. Thanks to the optimization of the central system, this project brings new value for customers and at the same time, achieves low-carbon power generation.

In 2018, the project went into a new step with KEPCO, Sumitomo Electric Industries and Nissan Motor starting a full-scale study on remote-controlled charging of electric vehicles, in order to improve their use as energy resources. For the first time in Japan, a newly-developed EV switch, to remotely control the charging of 60 EV units, has been launched at KEPCO offices and general households. Based on the EV information given via the VPP server, the charging of EVs is adjusted to the need of power storage. In addition, the use of  smartphone apps in order to confirm the availability of EVs by the owners is being monitored. Data collected during this study will be analyzed, and the value of EVs as a VPP energy resource will be evaluated.

The technical information accumulated in this demonstration project should contribute to decarbonize both building and transportation sectors due to broad use of EVs and electric thermal systems in the future, powered by a reliable and low-carbon electricity supply, improving energy efficiency.

Location: Japan

Location: Japan

GSEP members: Kansai,