Different products and services of the Next Kraftwerke Virtual Power Plant.

A virtual power plant is a digital swarm of decentralized renewable energy power producers - such as biogas, CHP, wind, solar and hydropower plants - and other decentralized power producers. The goals of this association are joint electricity marketing and the assumption of grid responsibility, for example by providing short-term reserves for grid operators. Electricity consumers are also part of our Next Pool virtual power plant: they benefit from variable electricity tariffs and contribute to the stability of the electricity system by shifting their electricity consumption over time.

The Next Pool is created by the digital, control technology networking of all participating electricity producers and consumers. The installation of new remote control units or the use of existing IT infrastructure (data loggers for PV inverters, energy management systems for electricity consumers) enable the exchange of data between the networked units and the central control system. The Next Pool control system then reads out current operating data from the individual units. This leads, for example, to better forecasts of the units' electricity consumption or production, and in turn enables far more accurate trading of electricity volumes. However, the control system also ramps up and down the networked units via switching commands, for example to provide the grid operators with short-term reserves or to automatically pass on favorable prices from the electricity exchange to electricity consumers.

On the one hand, the networking of renewable energies, other smaller, decentralized electricity producers and electricity consumers makes it possible to make better forecasts about the behavior of all players. Simply put, a virtual power plant improves forecasts of electricity production and consumption. This in turn - combined with savvy electricity trading of forecast volumes in short-term electricity markets - leads to more secure grid operations as fewer fluctuations enter the power system. Second, the Virtual Power Plant control system switches flexible units up or down - depending on demand in the power grids or electricity markets. A cloud passes over the solar farm? We ramp up electricity production from our networked bioenergy plants. More wind is blowing than expected? Flexible electricity consumers increase their consumption and benefit from the favorable wind energy. A grid operator needs short-term reserves to stabilize the grid frequency? Our swarm provides the necessary control energy. All this makes grid operation more secure. As a result, renewable energies can be expanded more quickly and conventional power plants can be shut down faster.

In the future, too, electricity will always come out of the socket when you need it - even if more and more renewable energies are added. And you may also be able to benefit financially from our virtual power plant yourself. To find out how, read our next question.

The costs for integration into the virtual power plant depend heavily on the technology used and the target market. The networking costs - and thus the market entry costs - are usually in the low three-digit to low four-digit range.