Next Kraftwerke operates of one of the largest Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) in Europe. A VPP is “a network of decentralised, medium-scale power generating units as well as flexible power consumers and storage systems.”
The Cologne-based company announced in late April that it had passed the 10,000 megawatt (MW) mark of networked capacity. That capacity is drawn from a pool of over 13,000 independent renewable energy plants – including wind, photovoltaic (PV), hydropower and bioenergy – as well as the electricity consumers, prosumers and storage units in the network.
Next Kraftwerke uses intelligent controls to aggregate electricity from its members and distribute it flexibly, mimicking a central power plant. It’s the energy equivalent of drawing processing power from a network of linked-up individual computers versus a central mainframe computer.
"Our Virtual Power Plant... not only illustrates how an energy system with a high proportion of volatile energy sources can function. It also shows how the concentrated energy of many decentralised plants – intelligently coordinated with each other – makes a reliable contribution to a stable power supply," explains Jochen Schwill, managing director of Next Kraftwerke, in a press release.
Over the past four years, the new energy company (founded in 2009) has more than doubled its interconnected capacity. The majority (6,000 MW) comes from solar power, which makes Next Kraftwerke the largest direct PV marketer in Germany. It also offers a VPP-as-a-service solution. "Via our platform NEMOCS, other companies also have the opportunity to set up their own VPP and thus actively participate in the green electricity market of the future themselves," explains Schwill.