ENER-G, as part of a research consortium co-funded by the UK government, will be focusing on the development of next generation virtual power plants, which utilitse clusters of CHP systems to help bolster supply, particularly in circumstance of peak demand.

ENER-G , together with Advanced Digital Institute; Flexitricity; Smarter Grid Solutions and UK Power Networks, has secured £100,000 (US$150,500 million) of match funding from the Technology Strategy Board, the government’s innovation agency.

The project will investigate the feasibility of using networks of small ENER-G CHP generators, which have the flexibility and high energy efficiency to provide reinforcement of supply to the local network.

By including a large number of smaller scale CHP generators and associated loads into a virtual power plant, the aim is to achieve improved flexibility and greater load-balancing potential to reduce stress on the network.

The project aims to improve resilience, enable and incentivise low carbon and lower cost electricity production, and reduce the need for utility engineering projects.

The project will perform business and technical modelling based on data from UK Power Networks’ London electricity network, using real ENER-G CHP systems to relieve the peaks in demand.

It will address the twin challenges of increasing demand, such as the move to electric cars, the growth of cities and rising summer temperatures, together with the UK’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions – targeted to reduce by 34% by 2020.

Addressing these challenges is forecast to save the UK £8 billion by 2020.

The project will also address how to maximise the potential for distributed heat and cooling through CHP, examining district heating, heat stores and technologies such as absorption chillers.

The consortium believes that their solution could make an important contribution to a lucrative global market for virtual power plants that, which, according to Pike Research, could reach $12.7 billion by 2015.

The feasibility study is scheduled to be completed in May next year.

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