Dong Energy, Denmark's state-owned electricity company, is planning tests on one of the world's first virtual power plants (VPP) on the wind-swept Faroe Islands, according to Business Green. The test will involve simulating how Dong Energy's smart grid technology, dubbed PowerHub, will fare when the wind, powering the islands wind turbines, decides to take a breather.
The Faroe Islands are ramping up wind's share of electricity generation to 25% by 2014.
Keeping a grid alive with electricity is a delicate balancing act. If the grid isn't to experience black-out inducing changes in frequency, supply must be matched to changes in demand. When electricity supply came from predictable sources, like fossil-fuel power plants, that was tricky, but do-able.
Now, however, the world needs to switch to renewables big-time, to cut climate-shocking greenhouse gas emissions. And some of these, like wind and solar power, are inherently variable. So that balancing act has gotten a lot more tricky. Hence the need for the greater smarts in grid that PowerHub represents.
The technology works by integrating 'fast frequency demand response' into the grid, requesting reduced demand from customers signed up to the scheme,when supply dips. The companies get paid to be part of that demand buffer, and to be more flexible in their use of electricity.
The Faroe Islands is an important, if challenging, location to get wind energy integration right, lying as it does in a storm-tossed wind resource hotspot. As Anders Birke, from Dong Energy, told Business Green, "with its harsh weather conditions, the Faroe Islands is one of the most
difficult places to install wind turbines and it's totally isolated."
"So if we can install the system here where it's hardest, we're
optimistic that we can do it elsewhere."