International energy giant E.ON and U.S.-based Vertiv (previously Emerson Network Power) have joined forces to deliver virtual power plant services in Germany, with an eye toward other markets worldwide.
Partnering with Vertiv gives E.ON — a European-based company with $67.9 billion in assets — the opportunity to offer uninterruptible power supply (UPS) battery-based solutions to market segments with mission critical energy needs, such as data centers and telecommunications. Vertiv, which builds critical infrastructure, gains access to E.ON’s customer base.
The lithium-ion battery storage systems at the core of the joint offering not only function as back-up power, but also can feed electricity into the grid when energy consumption is low or production of on-site power high. The systems can then participate in the grid-balancing energy market. This opens up a new source of income for business customers and stabilizes the electricity grid at the same time.
Aggregating energy stored across a network of customer-side battery systems also opens up the possibility of creating virtual power plant systems. E.ON intends to tap into that stored energy, sell it into various electricity market segments and share resulting profits with customers.
Vertiv develops and installs the new battery storage services’ technical infrastructure, while E.ON opens up access to German and European electricity markets.
Commercial and industrial customers will receive a guaranteed profit, according to E.ON. In this way the UPS and batteries can be used to enhance investment returns for customers, as well as serve their primary purpose, providing back-up power capacity, said Emiliano Cevenini, vice president, commercial & industrial vertical at Vertiv.
Managed by E.ON, the virtual power plant platform allows users to monitor battery usage, reassuring them they’re being used properly, Cevenini said. There is a beneficial side effect to that in that more frequent use, along with close monitoring, minimizes the risk the batteries might be depleted due to lack of use, as is typical in a UPS case, he pointed out.
“We think we are way ahead of any competition in this space, as we have the technology and the expertise to deploy these solutions already while others are just starting to consider these kind of applications,” Cevenini said. “Germany, together with a few other countries, is one of the first markets we are targeting, as E.ON already has an advanced virtual power plant platform that operates in Germany and that allows users to ‘plug in’ their energy storage systems.”
“Many of our UPS customers will certainly like to hear that they can now use their battery-based UPS-systems profitably beyond their actual purpose. Our partnership with E.ON enables us to offer our customers this opportunity in a simple manner. In return, customers of E.ON who do not yet own a UPS-system suitable for participation in the balancing energy market can conveniently use our joint offer,” said Reinhard Purzer, managing director of Vertiv in Germany.
E.ON and Vertiv are already exploring business prospects and how the new service might be used in other countries. That extends to the US and North America.
Vertiv specializes in designing and delivering digital network energy systems and services solutions for data center operators, telecommunications and Internet Service Providers, and other commercial and industrial businesses that consume a lot of electrical energy and require 24x7x365 availability.
E.ON has been involved in some high-profile utility battery energy storage projects in the US. Tucson Electric Power commissioned a 10 MW-2 MW lithium titanium oxide battery energy storage-solar PV system deployed by E.ON in June 2017. The installation marked E.ON’s first in North America.
In January, E.ON commissioned two utility-scale wind power-battery energy storage systems in Texas. Dubbed Texas Waves, E.ON integrated two, 10 MW lithium-ion battery storage systems at its Pyron and Inadale wind farms.
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