July 20, 2019


This "virtual power plant" made of solar and batteries means Oakland can stop burning jet fuel (ADELE PETERS, 7/19/19, Fast Company)

When the demand for electricity surges in Oakland, California, a power plant burning jet fuel switches on, pumping pollution into the western part of the city. But the plant will soon close--and will be replaced in part by a network of solar panels and batteries installed in affordable apartment buildings in the area.

"If it's a really hot summer day, and everyone has their air-conditioning on and demand for electricity is really high, we can work with [the grid operator] to discharge those batteries and provide electricity to the grid so that another fossil fuel power plant doesn't have to turn on to serve that demand," says Audrey Lee, vice president of energy services at Sunrun, the company that is building the new "virtual" power plant.

At the jet fuel plant, the plant's owner will install another massive battery system that can take electricity from the grid when demand is low and then release it when it's needed. Other battery storage systems in the area will also help. But the installation at apartment buildings is a unique way to solve the problem. The power will go first to the low-income families living in the buildings, then fill the batteries, with any excess electricity going back into the general grid. The system will be ready in 2022.

Posted by at July 20, 2019 5:54 PM