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Toshiba Launches Virtual Power Plant Solution Using AI and IoT

April 25, 2019 by Scott McMahan

Toshiba points out that everything is going virtual, and the virtual world is now reaching into the field of energy. The company expects that virtual power plants (VPP) will play an important role in a more sustainable future.

Toshiba has launched virtual power plant capabilities with the aid of AI and IoT.

Power companies that handle the generation, transmission and distribution of electric power are continually adjusting output levels to meet anticipated electricity consumption and to keep a dynamic balance between supply and demand. Failure in these efforts to balance supply and demand of electricity makes the supply unstable, resulting in power outages.

A VPP provides advanced energy management technologies to scattered energy generation sources and bundles them together in a network. This network is the virtual power plant.

Toshiba VPP Solution

Toshiba's VPP solution applies IoT and AI to aggregating output and controlling their grid connection.

Small, isolated power generation points in combination and managed by a VPP, can be used for load-leveling, to absorb excess supply from intermittent renewables, and to deliver supply during shortages.

Toshiba contends that when VPPs are used in combination with energy management systems at consumer sites, they can create and support innovative services.

For example, power that is not consumed as a result of demand-based incentives, in a VPP can be regarded as having the same value as power that is generated and is measured as a 'negawatt'.

Toshiba says that VPPs can stimulate the realization of negawatts, and manage them. The company forecasts that in a fully realized market, it will become possible to buy electricity generated from all types of power supply sources, including low-cost power generation by consumers.

Creation of VPP Market Forecast for 2021

The company anticipates that beginning in 2021, a new VPP market will be created.

Like VPP, negawatts are drawing attention. Toshiba says this attention comes not only because megawatt incentives prompt consumers to use less electricity, but also because the reductions they acquire can be traded as commodities.

For example, companies that realize negawatts can sell them to other companies on an exchange. Pilot schemes such as these are underway around the world, including the US and the EU. Japan, where test projects were initiated in fiscal year 2017, intends to have a full-scale market for negawatts up and running by 2021.

Negawatt trading is typically promoted by aggregators who work with electric utilities and customers such as factories, which consume large amounts of power.

Demand Response

In a process known as demand response, when supply looks tight, these aggregators can give customers monetary incentives to cut use and reduce demand. Demand response eases pressure on the suppliers and also saves electricity as negawatts.

In a fully realized market, it will become possible to buy electricity generated from all kinds of power supply sources, including low-cost generation by consumers.

Toshiba further envisions that as the 2020s progress and the new energy supply market grows including sources such as power generated from consumers, VPPs will be used to manage the widely distributed power sources.

The company says that the potential of having numerous small-scale electricity generating facilities, widely dispersed in offices, factories, homes, and even electric cars, is tremendous, and Toshiba expects VPPs to have a vital role in achieving a low carbon and low fossil fuel society.