Luc van Summeren

Community-based virtual power plant

Faculty of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences, University of Technology Eindhoven, l.f.m.v.summeren@tue.nl

Supervisors: Prof. Geert Verbong, Dr. Anna Wieczorek, Dr. Gunter Bombaerts

Background

I have a Bachelor degree in Technical Innovation Sciences and a Master degree in Innovation Sciences (both at University of Technology, Eindhoven). For the latter I wrote a thesis on deep-retrofitting projects in Dutch (social housing) neighbourhoods. After my graduation I worked for several years at a research and advisory company (DuneWorks) on projects

related to demand response, (monitoring and evaluation of) behavioural change and demand side management, local community-driven initiatives, residents in deep retrofitting projects and experiences of end-users with innovative systems aimed at lowering and shifting energy demand.

Summary

My research focusses on the potential role Community-based Virtual Power Plant (cVPP) could play in the transition to a sustainable society. A cVPP is a special type of Virtual Power Plant (VPP) driven by communities rather than utilities. A cVPP makes an interesting case because it combines two promising concepts from two distinctive fields: community energy and VPP. The latter is an increasingly popular smart grid application that aggregates distributed energy resources (DER) into a coordinated portfolio, which acts as the virtual equivalent of a single power plant. By enabling energy market participation and the provision of system support services to grid operators VPP can replace conventional power plants and the roles they play regarding energy generation, capacity and controllability. Currently VPPs are mainly driven by incumbents like utilities and energy retailers. However, they can also be adopted by communities, allowing them to go beyond energy generation, conservation and efficiency, by enabling them to trade energy on the wholesale market, to manage energy flows within their community and to provide services to grid operators. Novel concepts like cVPP are only just emerging. This research aims to better understand what cVPP is, how it can facilitate empowerment and upscaling of (existing and new) low-carbon community-driven energy initiatives, and what its potential impacts are on the transition to a low-carbon society.

This PhD research is part of the project ‘cVPP – Community-based Virtual Power Plant: a novel model of radical decarbonisation based on empowerment of low-carbon community driven energy initiatives’, led by the TU/e and funded by Interreg NWE (cVPP 588).