Norwegian energy group Statkraft has unveiled a virtual power plant in the UK which connects wind, solar and gas engines with battery storage and can respond to market demands in seconds.

“The idea is to match renewable power production with market demand within seconds,” said Duncan Dale of Statkraft in the UK. “The increasing share of renewable energy in the UK will require a maximum of flexibility in the British power grid. By integrating batteries and engines into the virtual power plant and optimising their operations we can provide this flexibility reliably.”

The virtual power plant monitors the operations of more than 1000 MW of wind, solar, battery storage and gas engines. It compares it with constantly-updating Day Ahead, On-the-Day and Cash Out (indicative electricity imbalance) price forecasts, allowing what Dale calls “real time optimisation of power trading in the British energy market”.

And Statkraft is planning to double the capacity of the virtual power plant by the summer. Dale said that making best use of flexibility will facilitate the integration of intermittent power generation into the electricity system and by that the expansion of renewable energy in the UK.

Software from German firm Energy & Meteo Systems will connect, coordinate and monitor the decentralised sites, storage facilities and controllable loads, via a common intelligent control centre.

In doing so, it can act within various energy markets as would a conventional power plant. Dr Ulrich Focken, founder of Director of Energy & Meteo, said that combining these functionalities with optimised power forecasting means that “fluctuating, decentralised power sources can be reliably integrated into the energy grid and profitably marketed at an energy exchange”.

In Germany, Statkraft already interconnects more than 1400 wind and solar installations in what is Europe’s largest virtual power plant, with an installed capacity of around 12,000 MW.