The idea of the project is that the excess energy storage capacity in the existing grid infrastructure of towns and cities could be used to successfully shape the energy transition. Bundled into virtual energy storage tanks and adapted to people’s consumption patterns, this energy has the potential to compensate for the fluctuations in energy supplied from renewable energy sources.

In order to make use of this potential in a field test, researchers developed a management system for the coordinated operation of CHP plants, heat pumps, night storage heaters, PV batteries and other systems. Then they put this to the test in the towns of Herten and Wunsiedel, for which they calculated a storage potential of 5 MWh and 3 MWh, respectively. Extrapolated to the whole of Germany, this would mean that virtual storage systems could supply more power than the existing pumped-storage plants.

The successful test demonstrated that such virtual power plants can be technically implemented and would be suitable for stabilising the municipal distribution grids. It was possible to integrate all the relevant technologies into a virtual storage system, although they first had to be very closely dovetailed in one another. This was achieved by implementing new communication protocols and interfaces. Looking to the future, the researchers recommended integrating the communication interfaces to lower the cost factor when making use of the flexibility potential.

As part of the Energy Storage Research Initiative, this project is being funded over a period of five years by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).