Smart Grid News and Analysis

IoT World Forum 2018
IoT World Forum 2018

Siemens and Mark-E offer virtual power plant to boost utilities’ energy business


Siemens Smart Grid is supplying North Rhine-Westphalia-based energy services provider Mark-E – a member of the ENERVIE Group, Hagen, Germany, – with an IT solution for a virtual power plant as part of a “hosted service.” The generating capacity of the connected distributed energy resources will be marketed directly, and will also be offered in the form of balancing power via the corresponding trading platforms for system service. Siemens is making the required technology (hardware plus its cloud-based DEMS Portal) available in a service center that Mark-E accesses via a user interface. Omnetric GmbH, a joint venture of Siemens and Accenture, delivers and operates the infrastructure needed for the system. Siemens is also making its existing sales channels available to assist Mark-E with the acquisition of the power capacities of distributed energy resources and consumers that they will market via the virtual power plant. The offering is aimed at utilities that want to participate in this aggregation network by combining the capacities of other distributed energy resources for marketing by Mark-E.

“Virtual power plants are an important module in building smart grids, without which it would be impossible to implement the new energy policy,” said Jan Mrosik, CEO of Siemens Smart Grid Division. “Smart grids provide the only practical solution for integrating the growing number of distributed and renewable energy resources in the grid. With our cloud solution for virtual power plants, which we offer as a “managed service,” we make it easier for power suppliers and utilities to get into this promising technology.”

Erik Höhne is Technical Director of the ENERVIE Group and is also responsible for energy trading at Mark-E. He said, “With its service for virtual power plants, Siemens provides us with a low-cost solution for operating a virtual power plant, and this allows us to concentrate on what is essential. That means acquiring as many distributed and renewable energy resources as possible – including from industrial companies and other utilities – and efficiently integrating them in the energy markets.”

Virtual power plants are positioned to play an increasingly important role in Germany’s sustainable energy supply. They can be used to help manage the increasingly decentralized generation of electrical power in such a way that all participating market partners can derive maximum benefit. With a virtual power plant, an energy management system controls and optimizes the distributed energy resources and combines their individual capacities. This aggregation process is essential to enabling them to trade on energy markets in the first place. However, in the case of virtual power plants with low overall capacity, the outlay required for establishing them combined with their operating costs frequently exceeds the economic benefit that is achievable. But distributed energy resources can only participate in energy and balancing power markets if they are grouped together. In many cases, small and medium-sized utilities have to forego using this technology altogether, and are unable to offer their customers who operate distributed energy resources adequate marketing options.

The new cloud-based Siemens service fills this gap. Siemens and Mark-E enable smaller utilities to operate their own virtual power plants with a minimal investment by using Siemens technology and collaborating with Mark-E as their market partner. The solution is based on the Siemens energy management system DEMS, which is already employed in numerous virtual power plants and manages all required system functions. This includes communications interfaces for the distributed energy resources, supply forecasts, and aggregation mechanisms. The capacities of the power plants can also be released by their operators via a Web portal for sale by Mark-E.

Energy-efficient, eco-friendly solutions for setting up intelligent power supply networks (Smart Grids) and the associated service are part of Siemens’ Environmental Portfolio. Around 43 percent of its total revenue stems from green products and solutions. That makes Siemens one of the world’s leading providers of eco-friendly technology.