Like bio energy plants, Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units that use biomethane or other natural gases are a very welcome addition to our virtual power plant. Essentially, Next Kraftwerke sells the output of the CHP units in our virtual power plant on two markets. The daily power output is traded on the spot market of the EPEX energy exchange, while the units’ flexibility is sold on balancing energy markets.
In general, the power generation of a CHP unit is easy to adjust, which is the central precondition for participating in balancing energy markets. The engine of a CHP unit is able to shut down within minutes and thus is able to provide valuable negative balancing energy. But a single unit is rarely in the position to enter the market since regulations, a lack of trading capacity, heat supply restrictions and the lack of technical know-how often prevent the operator from taking the step into balancing energy (or ancillary reserves) markets.
In our virtual power plant however, scores of CHP units are interconnected through telecontrol modules. In case of grid imbalances, the control system of our virtual power plant receives a signal from the transmission grid operators and reacts within minutes to support the grid. For example, CHP units and bio energy plants shut down via the telecontrol module so that solar and wind parks can keep producing without the grid ever coming close to a black-out. At the same time, Next Kraftwerke trades the flexibility of the networked CHP units on the balancing markets and collects revenues for the CHP units’ ability to support the grid.
As soon as a remote control unit – our Next Box – has been installed at the CHP unit, its flexibility is sold on the balancing energy market.
The unit receives a stand-by fee for its readiness to switch off at any time. CHP power generation is not affected at this stage and does not need to be adjusted.
In case of grid overload, the feed-in of CHP power is reduced or stopped within minutes. The operators receive a bonus for their services from Next Kraftwerke.
Peak Load Operation
In addition to offering the units’ flexibility on the balancing energy markets, Next Kraftwerke also trades the generated power on the wholesale market of the EPEX energy exchange. Ideally, the power production of the CHP units is adjusted to peak power consumption and thus to peak grid load and peak power prices. The control system of our virtual power plant aggregates information from different sources such as transmission grid data, market data and historical feed-in data. As a result, we are able to provide our clients with the necessary operational schedules for their individual units. Operators can either follow the schedule themselves to hit peak prices on the energy exchange or let the control system of Next Kraftwerke take over the operation of the CHP units, according to predefined rules and schedules.