Technology



Control system

The control system is the technological core of the Virtual Power Plant, and it is administered exclusively by our own system engineers. Through the control system, the Virtual Power Plant forms a network of thousands of electricity producing and electricity consuming systems. These include for example thermal, biogas, wind and solar power plants. Through the central control system, the units are controlled, started up and shut down - whereby the owners naturally retain all their rights with regard to their asset. Within the contracted boundaries, we let your installation produce and/or consume energy when the price is best for you (demand-driven supply or demand response).

The control system receives all the information that the Next Boxes of all the units and the electricity system transmit by machine-to-machine communication (M2M) to our Virtual Power Plant. When it gets to the control system, the data is re-authenticated by a router cluster with firewall, decrypted and stored in the correct place. This takes place physically at different server sites that are connected to different medium voltage lines and interconnected by redundant lines. This creates server clusters, each with paired redundant servers. If one of the servers fails, its counterpart takes over automatically. Through these various security measures, we ensure that even with different types of failures (for example in the power grid, in the connecting line between the servers or in the servers themselves) the control system, and therefore the Next Pool, keeps running without any problem.

The control system stores all the data needed to calculate the optimal operation schedules for electricity producers and consumers. These are for example:

  • Actual power
  • Readiness of the power plant or the power consumer
  • Performance range for balancing energy
  • Gas or heat storage
  • Actual temperature (for example in a cold store)
  • Water levels (for example for an industrial pump)

With optimization algorithms developed by our system engineers, we generate individual schedules for the various technical units. The control system thus ensures that the units' flexibility is used in the most profitable way within the given technical constraints being operated both on the electricity market and the reserve power market.

A flexible electricity consumer for example such a industrial pumping system can orient their operating times to the electricity market, by using electricity at times when it is cheapest and overall demand is low. The remaining flexiblity to steer the plant up and down in real-time can be sold to the grid operator as reserve power. Even plants with relatively low flexibility (~50kW) can be valorised this way resulting in interesting additional revenues.