Shell and Total, through their VC divisions, have both beein investors in AutoGrid. Image: Autogrid.
US software and data company Autogrid has continued its roll-out of solutions into Japan’s evolving electricity market, joining a virtual power plant (VPP) project that could add more than 10,000 assets by the end of 2021.
Autogrid has been one of the prominent early movers in aggregating distributed energy resources (DERs) including solar, battery energy storage and demand response, into so-called VPPs that perform the role of conventional power plants on the grid, without dependency on large-scale centralised generation assets and associated transmission and distribution infrastructure. Energy-Storage.news covered the California company’s activities in this space as early as 2015, when it delivered solutions to what was described as “the world’s first software-defined power plant”, a VPP in Holland that incorporated 100MW of dispatchable resources including CHP and demand response.
Japan’s electricity market is opening up to competition while the country remains largely dependent on imported fossil fuels and solar feed-in tariffs start coming to an end. Analyst Izumi Kaizuka of Tokyo-based RTS PV told this site recently that owing to these and other converging factors, including a zero energy buildings policy for new homes coming in place next year, Japan’s ‘solar boom’ is far from over. This changing market landscape is also opening up opportunities for new technologies, and the application of data, with major utility TEPCO’s recently reported blockchain project a case in point. Meanwhile, Autogrid and others including the UK’s Moixa Technology have struck deals to allow them to partner with energy solutions providers on aggregated VPP projects. Meanwhile, domestic providers including Softbank and Kyocera have also joined in partnership with utilities, grid operators and other stakeholders to execute virtual power plant (VPP) projects backed by the government.
Japanese energy management services company ENERES has contracted Autogrid to supply its virtual power plant and customer engagement software, which will “aggregate, market and dispatch energy from demand response and DERs”, Autogrid said yesterday.
“Japan is in the midst of a massive market transformation that requires much greater supplies of flexible energy,” Autogrid CEO Dr Amit Narayan said, adding that the VPP with ENERES is a “scalable platform to meet this challenge”.
‘Leveraging DERs and demand response in real-time’
The project will run in two phases, with the first phase being the creation of a large and dispatchable demand response portfolio, while in the second, diverse resources including solar PV, energy storage systems, combined heat and power (CHP) systems, and EV batteries – along with more DR – will be aggregated as a full-scale VPP. ENERES will utilise Autogrid’s Autogrid Flex software platform to trade energy in wholesale and capacity markets.
Investors in Autogrid include Total Energy Ventures, which acquired a stake in the company as “strategic investor” in 2016 and E.On, which invested US$20 million in Autogrid in the same year. At the beginning of this year, Shell Ventures also joined an investment round in the company. For the latest VPP project, it will supply ENERES with a customised cloud-based software solution that can manage everything from customer enrolment to energy monitoring and forecasting, dispatchability and measurement and verification tasks.
ENERES president and representative director said that the falling costs of solar and storage, combined with the opening up of opportunities in capacity markets mean that demand response and DERs are “becoming a key component of our daily operations”.
“AutoGrid Flex gives us a proven, AI-driven comprehensive distributed energy management solution that allows us to fully leverage our own DER and DR resources and those of our customers in real time,” Kobayashi said.