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Proposed ‘virtual power plant’ would augment grid resiliency


Rep. Héctor Ferrer Santiago (izq)

By The Star Staff


Popular Democratic Party Reps. Héctor Ferrer Santiago and Luis Raúl Torres Cruz have introduced a resolution in the island House of Representatives that would investigate ways to establish a virtual power plant (VPP).


A VPP is a cloud-based distributed power plant that aggregates the capacities of heterogeneous distributed energy resources to enhance power generation, as well as trade or sell power on the electricity market.


The lawmakers said a VPP takes advantage of photovoltaic generation storage systems interconnected to the electricity grid to meet demand in energy peaks, as well as provide resiliency in the event that there is a failure in a generating unit.


“Recently the entire country has suffered events of energy interruption,” Ferrer Santiago said. “Given the inability of the generation system to satisfy the energy demand of the network, we had four generation units go offline, and the so-called load relays or selective blackouts were implemented. This is why we consider it worthwhile to carry out an exhaustive investigation on everything concerning the implementation of a virtual generation plant …”


The implementation of VPPs would integrate photovoltaic generation systems and their battery fleets into the distribution network, so that their charge can be used during peak energy demand events and as emergency generation before the dropout of any generation unit of the electrical system.


In this way, more than 30,000 battery systems connected to photovoltaic panels can be used for the stability of the system, the legislators said. It is estimated that by taking advantage of such a virtual generation plant model, it would be possible to have at any given time a generation capacity similar to that of a 100-megawatt emergency generation plant.


“The virtual generation plant would not only represent a new concept of energy management for Puerto Rico, but could also reduce the impact on the environment, reduce interruptions due to demand peaks in the network and offer greater flexibility to clients,” Torres Cruz said.


The resolution comes after the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) declared a state of emergency to hasten the use of up to $180 million in funds to help repair power plants. The declaration came amid weeks of repeated power outages, which forced the exit of former PREPA Board Chairman Ralph Kreill and of former Executive Director Efran Paredes.

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