Stacking the Deck

Virtual power plants and energy storage may shape the energy model of the future.


Today virtual power plants are able to integrate an array of energy resources into networked systems that produce efficient and flexible power. The addition of energy storage can create an enhanced solution.

Two British companies, developer Anesco and electric utility company Limejump, have partnered to bring 185 MW of energy storage online to support Limejump’s virtual power plant operations in the UK.

With cloud-based technology, the companies will aggregate generation sources and batteries to operate as virtual units that will be able to provide sub-second response to ease grid demand. Under the terms of the deal, Limejump will commercially operate the energy storage portfolio. The project will also offer the potential to stack revenues.  

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Value stacking refers to the utilization of batteries in a way that maximizes their lifecycles. Today, many energy storage systems are deployed for a specific application such as demand charge reduction, backup power, or supporting solar and renewable sources, which results in batteries remaining underutilized.

A report from the Rocky Mountain Institute offers the following example: “An energy storage system dispatched solely for demand charge reduction is utilized for only 5–50% of its useful life. Dispatching batteries for a primary application and then re-dispatching them to provide multiple, stacked services creates additional value for all electricity system stakeholders.”

While the project’s intent is to help create a more dynamic energy system, with more renewable integration, and less reliance on fossil fuel power generation, it may also have profound industry-wide implications.

“As well as aiding grid stability, energy storage can help maximize the use of renewable power being generated, while breeding a more resilient local grid,” said Anesco’s executive chairman, Steve Shine. “It’s an exciting time for the sector and we predict momentum will continue to grow, as more and more generators look to benefit from the technology.”

We see this as an exciting project and one that will be important to observe as it evolves. This virtual power plant and battery storage combination may shift the energy landscape. What are your thoughts: Are aggregated generation sources coupled with storage shaping the energy model of the future?DE_bug_web

  • Jack Laken, President of Termobuild.

    Great article! Exceptionally well written. Wondering what would be your thoughts on using the building as a battery to store thermal energy ( both heating and cooling).

    • Henry W.

      I just attended the Energy Storage Association show in Denver. Sat in on a session titled: “Energy Storage + X: Hybrid Storage Systems and Renewables.” The conversation primarily focused on battery energy storage in various applications, with Siemens, Mercedes and Dynapower leading that side of the conversation. Mark McCracken of CALMAC also presented, and was really the outlier when talking about the need for commercial/industrial projects to utilize thermal storage first. Thermal storage + batteries was something he viewed as complimentary.

      It was most interesting because so much of the conversation around “energy storage” is about batteries, ignoring the obvious benefits of thermal energy storage for load shifting/demand management, especially in the commercial/industrial sector. Obviously there’s competition between thermal and traditional battery storage. But they may be complimentary, as well. My two cents are that thermal energy storage (in the building envelope or with ancillary thermal storage) should be a fundamental part of any complete onsite energy solution. How to break through to building owners and facilities mangers who are thinking about solar+storage is another question…

      • Laura S.

        Thank you for offering this perspective, Henry. I concur and think that it will be an increasingly important part of the planning process for builders to incorporate storage into building design.

  • Jack Laken.

    Henry, your feedback reflects the current state of energy storage sales, marketing and application approach. Upcoming conference on DESIGNING BUILDINGS FOR POST-DISASTER RESILIENCE WITH THERMO-ACTIVE RADIANT AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEMS to be held in Vancouver, Canada May 31 – June 3, 2017 will be focused more on financial efficiency in the Building as a Battery approach and their ability to harness free energy that surrounds us year round.


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