While “virtual” is a term most often associated with the reality of video games, it can also be used to describe a new and efficient source of power.
In March, the online energy software firm, Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) announced in a press release its virtual power plant in Southern California had broken a new record for power delivered by this type of system.
The AMS project became operational in 2018 and, in its first full year, delivered more than 2 gigawatt-hours (GWH) of capacity services to the grid. According to the company, this has “shattered records for distributed energy storage anywhere in the world today.”
What is a virtual power plant?
The AMS set-up consists of multiple battery storage installations at strategic, behind-the-meter locations, used to control and reduce peak demand at large commercial and industrial customer facilities.
AMS was awarded a contract by Southern California Edison (SCE) in 2014 to reduce peak demand in the Los Angeles Basin by installing battery storage systems behind-the-meter at SCE's commercial industrial customer sites. The contract was one of many in the utility’s comprehensive effort to deploy distributed energy and battery storage instead of fossil fuel resources to provide local capacity to the grid.
The first phase of the AMS project includes a fleet of 21 state-of-the-art Hybrid Electric Buildings owned by the Irvine Co. The fleet is available to reduce peak demand by up to 10 megawatts (MW) within minutes of an automated signal from the grid operator. According to AMS, this winter, the fleet was dispatched 64 business days in a row with no impact to building operations.
When completed later this year, the virtual power plant project will encompass 62 MW and 352 MW-hours of capacity.