As discussed here many, many times, the big problem with generating electricity from wind and solar sources is that they are intermittent. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. And sometimes they don’t work for days on end. The times when both wind and sun fail at the same time for multiple days tend to be concentrated in the very coldest days of the winter. This poses a huge problem for central planners’ dreams of “net zero” electricity. Try to solve the problem with grid-scale batteries, and suddenly you’re talking wildly unaffordable costs in the trillions of dollars.
Not to worry. Recently everywhere talk has emerged of a new and seemingly easy solution to the problem of intermittency. Have you heard of it? It’s the “Virtual Power Plant.” I mean, today pretty much everything can be “virtual” if you want it to be. We have the “virtual” meeting, the “virtual” office, and the “virtual” school — even “virtual” reality. So why not a “virtual” power plant?
But, in the context of generating electricity, what does this business of “virtual” mean? Don’t you actually need to have something to produce the juice? A Manhattan Contrarian investigation now reveals that the Virtual Power Plant is exactly what you undoubtedly already suspect it to be: another new level of Orwellian doubletalk. “Virtual Power Plant” turns out to be another term for pointless enforced sacrifice in service to the climate cult.
If you have been paying attention, you probably have already noticed that this “Virtual Power Plant” thing is the latest talking point of the central planners. For those who have been paying less attention, let me provide a little sampling: here is the web page from the federal government’s Department of Energy (“Virtual power plants, generally considered a connected aggregation of distributed energy resource (DER) technologies, offer deeper integration of renewables and demand flexibility, which in turn offers more Americans cleaner and more affordable power”); a recent (2023) Report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (“Virtual Power Plants, Real Benefits: How aggregating distributed energy resources can benefit communities, society, and the grid”); a piece from Reuters, January 31, 2023 (“Explainer: What is a virtual power plant?”); a piece from Elektrek, September 2, 2022, informing us that none other than Tesla is in the middle of this new fad (“Tesla virtual power plant is rocketing up, reaches 50 MW”).
OK, then, this VPP thing has something to do with “a connected aggregation of distributed power resources.” What the heck does that mean?
Trying to get to the bottom of this, I come upon a piece from Utility Dive on May 5, and a Report from the Brattle Group with a May 2023 date. (You may recognize the Brattle Group as the people who put out the 2021 New York Power Grid Study that I criticized in this post on April 22.)
Both Utility Dive and the Brattle Group start out with excited descriptions of this VPP thing as some magical concoction to defeat the intermittency problem with almost no cost or sweat. From Utility Dive’s summary of the Brattle Group’s conclusions:
The net cost for a utility to provide resource adequacy from a virtual power plant is about 40% to 60% less than natural gas peaker plants and utility-scale batteries. Deploying 60 GW of VPPs “could meet future U.S. resource adequacy needs at $15-$35 billion less than the cost of the alternative options over the ensuing decade,” Brattle’s report said.
And it gets even more magical. From page 12 of the Brattle Group Report:
In fact, a VPP does not even need to generate power.
Wait a minute — what is a “power plant” that doesn’t generate any power? Let us in on the secret! We have to get that by working our way through a model set forth in the Report. In that model, the “Virtual Power Plant” derives its input (if you want to call it that) almost entirely from the following three things:
Smart Thermostats. A/C and electric heating are controlled to reduce usage during peak times. Customer comfort is managed through pre-cooling/heating. Smart Water Heating. Electric water heaters act as a grid-interactive thermal battery, providing daily load shifting and even real-time grid balancing. Home EV Managed Charging. EV charging is a large, flexible source of load that can be shifted overnight.
It’s “smart” thermostats, and “smart” water heaters, and “managed” EV charging. If I might, let me translate that into layman’s terms. On the coldest days of the winter, when the grid does not have enough power, first we will take the liberty of draining the power out of your EV battery. In the all EV utopia that we envision, you are now stuck at home. Then, we will remotely turn off your heat and hot water. Hey, it’s to save the planet!
In this vision, the convenience and comfort, let alone the physical safety, of the people are of no importance. No more the American dream, where you can improve your life by hard work. Now it’s to be forced sacrifice to satisfy the jealous gods of the pagan climate cult.
It’s one more front in the all-out war against your well-being now being waged by our government.
Their innovative proposal is to construct a mesh (“smart”) grid that shunts electricity from locations that produce to where there are deficits. That said, a solution that engenders spreading the Green blight over land and sea.
This has the very ugly connotations of WW2 Germany’s planned “surplus” and “deficit” zones they planned for once they won the war in the East.
A very cold chill ran down my spine with this thought.
never heard of that- I’ll have to look it up
Essentially it’s Herbert Backe’s Hunger Plan, if that helps
(Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunger_Plan )
You’ll be “resettled” for the planet’s good.
Karl Marx “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. (gender ‘pronouns’ were not yet actualised at the life time of the old devil, I had to study Marxism, whether I liked it not.)
This is how virtual power station will work
You have electric car, power grid has ability with extra capacity, you will told to charge it and keep it charged and connected whenever not in use (your usage will be continuously monitored), so no cheating!
Grid needs additional capacity, your car has ability to provide some.
You fail to keep your car connected when grid needs power, next time when you try to charge it, the automatic control will make sure your need will not be satisfied.
You will have no choice in following the directive, else your vehicle will be immobilised for number of days.
Do it again? No, TV, fridge, heating, WiFi, etc, etc …
It’s only fair, you want to use grid when you need it, grid will insist on your ability to make your electric storage available when it needs it.
All controls will be done by AI, no human input required.
AI was invented not to help you, but to control you.
Well, we are closer to it than I thought.
Vuk to Chat GPT:
Employ ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ for using electric cars batteries to supplement grid capacity deficiency.
The statement “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is a slogan associated with the principles of socialism and is often used to advocate for a fair distribution of resources based on individual abilities and needs.
Applying this concept to the use of electric car batteries to supplement grid capacity deficiency could be approached in the following way:
There you have it.
Oh Jeez, who needs to even think any more?
I see a big market for virtual thermostats. Something that reports back to the masters the room temperature, setpoint, and equipment run status that they want to see but in reality operates based on the settings set by the local user.
How does one mask the current flow from the grid? The sensors will be located on the power pole or underground. AI can construct a usage map of the neighborhood pretty easily.
As an electrical engineer, I think you’re right, but some details remain to be determined.
Frazier was talking about the thermostat settings not the actual usage – move the thermostat to the basement in winter and the attic in summer (it’s only a few wires) and even if they shave a degree or two you’ll still be comfortable. If the powers that be just cut one off during a peak period well, then that’s different.
See my comment elsewhere here.
Already in Progress!
See my comment elsewhere here.
Ah, virtual power is just the thing to go with the virtual food Kerry is going on about in the previous article.
Redefining load shedding as a virtual power plant. George Orwell is spinning in his grave.
Five Stages of Grief
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance
I think this may be a good sign. They passed through denial where they foolishly claimed that intermittency was not a problem.
Then they passed through anger where they lashed out any anyone who pointed out their folly.
Now they are bargaining, sure it’s an issue, but if we control demand then it won’t be a problem.
Except that controlling demand when it means rolling blackouts (or perhaps better to call it rolling lights on) where demand is cut 90% for ten days straight during bitter cold is not any sort of a solution.
They may be particularly dangerous while they go through the penultimate depression stage, but acceptance is coming.
Neil Oliver on Climate Change:
The key DOE words are ‘demand flexibility’. Translated: you cannot have electricity when you want it, only when we allow it. And we won’t allow it when renewables aren’t producing.
And the operating of these brilliant solutions is with voice control. Just say ‘simsalabim’ or ‘abacadabra’. Don’t forget your magic wand and wear a pointed hat.
Would that be on top of my tin foil hat?
No one *needs* a hot shower on demand.
No one *needs* a hot meal when you wish.
No one *needs* their EV fully charged to leave for work confident of enough charge to get home.
NO. YOU DO NOT GET TO TELL ME WHAT I *NEED* OR *DON’T NEED*!!
“Now it’s to be forced sacrifice to satisfy the jealous gods of the pagan climate cult.” It is idolatry.
If Manhattan Contrarians like hot-stock tips: GNRC
Someone once said the three inventions which most revolutionized American society were the TV, which gave people a reason to stay inside; air conditioning, which made it possible for people to stay inside; and the remote control garage door, which made it possible for people to transition twixt car and home without going outside.
Thus the death of neighborhoods, as nobody ever met their neighbors again.
The greenies are doing the opposite, making it simultaneously impossible to leave and stay at home.
I just got elected to my community’s board as a write in candidate simply by saying I deplored the demise of a neighborhood spirt and if elected would work toward more community involvement. To my surprise I won one of the open and contested seats!
Maybe there is hope afterall.
Good luck to you.
The alarmists will do/try/lie about anything that bolsters removing fossil fuels from our energy equation and cost is a plus because it drains the Capitalist coffers. But they never do proof of concept because it would prove them wrong. And they believe themselves and capture many useful idiots in the process. Only realizing they brought energy poverty upon themselves, up to the point of death, is going to stop this energy suicide.
I tell my relatives in California and in New York State that within a decade, they will have to learn how to get by with a third less electricity than they use today, while paying a greater fraction of their income for the electricity they consume. As you might imagine, this warning is falling on deaf ears.
‘We have the “virtual” meeting, the “virtual” office, and the “virtual” school — even “virtual” reality’
And, of course, we have “virtual” virtue. Shame it’s not real!
As in Steinbeck’s ‘Saint Katy the Virgin‘ :<)
Oh lets just call it what it is…Marxism/Leninism. Everything is for the good of the Party/Fatherland/State. If you disagree, you are not a good Party member!
they and only they get to decide facts
Marxist-Leninists would have the likes of Kerry, Gore and Bezos up against a wall.
Marxist-Leninists were statists as were Fascists: “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State” (Mussolini).
The climate cult is a new form of statist ideology.
Ah, round and round she goes!
Kip Hansen tried to motivate me enough to find the thread where this idea of customer-sharing by inadequate power plants was thoroughly asswhipped. Or so I thought…
I used to translate “sustainable” as: “can we put it on the stock market”. I have since come to the conclusion, they measure sustainability by the needs of the few people they have decided to let live. Soon, there will not be so much electricity needed, what with a weaponised ‘health service’ and them new GMO transhuman supersoldiers who don’t possess the gene that causes unrealistic expectations of individual sovereignty.
A map of degrading, shuttered and threatened power plants may indicate where they plan not to have any humans present?
But the deaths are not virtual.
That is because people buy real gasoline generator to make their own electricity when the power company fails to do it.
The consumer product safety commission did a study that determined that about 50 die a year using portable generators from carbon monoxide poisoning.
That won’t be a problem once they remove fuels from the market.
When it gets dark and you turn on the lights in the house they virtually come on. Then you can virtually see where you you are going when you put the cat out.
If it’s not a vegan cat, it will have to be a virtual cat, because there won’t be any meat products to feed it.
My cat does pretty well with the rabbits and birds.
Unless it’s a virtual black cat in your virtual black coal cellar.
If only the stubbing of the little toe on the corner of the kitchen bench was “virtual”.
You can have warm beer and soft ice cream — or go virtual with both.
The shrinking waistline will be real, not virtual.
On low wind nights everything must be off, by everybody. A voluntary blackout.
“Customer comfort is managed through pre-cooling/heating.”
hmmm… so, if later in the day will be very hot- though it’s only 65 F in your house when you’re having breakfast, you had better pre-cool your home right now since you may lose power in the afternoon- so drop your house to 55, while trying to enjoy your eggs and bacon
First there was Orwell’s “1984″, implemented in a slightly different manner than first envisioned. Now it is “The Matrix” script where, ultimately, you will be the battery.
It really is fascinating how many different ways the left has for disguising the fact that they only solution they have to the problem of renewable intermittency is turning off out power whenever they feel like it.
Brilliant! The government is going to turn my $70,000 Tesla into a $15,000 grid backup device that will render my $70,000 Tesla dead for when I need it.
If Progressive government is good at anything, it’s at turning $70,000 into $15,000, or less.
Of course, I also have every expectation that as my car is drained of energy and my house turns cold, it will be for the sake of some more important person on the grid who’s Tesla will get charged and house kept toasty warm.
You could always unplug the Tesla once charged.
Most people will want to be charging overnight, which will no longer be possible because of the retirement of base-load capacity. This means charging during the day, which will be very inconvenient, and will further reduce the desirability of EVs.
REDUCE?! That pre-supposes that EVs have ANY desirability beyond running to the local grocery store.
Most people commute less than 20 miles on a regular basis. EVs are optimal for this use. I own several vehicles, and would not mind owning an EV for most of the trips that I do on a regular basis that are less than 10 miles round-trip. However, if it becomes impossible to conveniently charge an EV during evening hours, the convenience factor evaporates and the EV becomes highly undesirable.
Not too mention cycling the batteries in that very expensive vehicle much more often, reducing their life span and the date at which you’ll need to fork out another $30k to replace them.
If your batteries last 10 years before needing to be replaced (a big if, if it’s being used as a backup for unreliable generation), that’s a little over $8 per day (not taking into account inflation).
I seriously doubt that they’ll help you out with the battery replacement costs.
Depreciation is the most expensive aspect of automobile ownership, which most people don’t understand. This scheme just makes depreciation worse, and whatever premium they’ll promise to pay for the power put back on the grid is unlikely to account for this.
“it will be for the sake of some more important person on the grid who’s Tesla will get charged and house kept toasty warm.”
Selective electrical charging of devices.
So under such a system, if the leadership were corrupt, they could rig the system so all their fellow elites would not suffer from rationing of electricity. The rest of us can go fish.
Virtual power plant participation is voluntary and compensated.
What’s the problem with some people choosing to get paid to use energy a little differently if it costs less than other ways to balance the power system?
Here’s just one ‘problem with some people choosing to get paid to use energy a little differently if it costs less than other ways to balance the power system‘: rental housing.
The landlord gets paid and the tenant’s power is cut.
The rest of us are paying these people for no good reason. It is an added cost of pointless intermittency.
Presently it is voluntary. In the short future, it will be the new norm. And to deviate from the new norm will be increasingly difficult and costlier. If you do not understand this, then you are a marionette in a play.
Depreciation is the most expensive aspect of automobile ownership, which most people don’t understand. Expensive EV batteries have a finite number of cycles. This scheme just makes depreciation worse, and whatever premium they’ll promise to pay for the power put back on the grid is unlikely to account for this.
I have a more brilliant idea than “virtual” power plants. First, we build a nuclear power station. Then we make giant fans and extremely bright lights to absorb the electricity produced by the nuclear power plant. The fans blow on windmills and the lights shine on photovoltaic panels. We will always have green electricity even when the wind doesn’t blow and the sky is cloudy. Don’t need no stinkin’ batteries! Wow, how smart am I for thinking this up!!
It’s a sustainable system too – virtual perpetual motion – the green electricity can then be used to build the next nuclear power plant. It will never get started, though. The greens will shut it down by banning the use of nuclear fuel.
More sustainable – just build the nuke plant, forget building the worse-than-useless wind and solar. 24/7 electric generation, resources that would be wasted building worse-than-useless wind and solar are conserved for something actually useful.
Don’t forget “virtual” gender.
Virtual energy be virtual powerplants, ergo energy at your fingerflip 😀
Progressive/liberal progress. Most BEV’s currently are virtually powered at night using solar power. Moving right along we now can simultaneously use those night charging batteries for keeping warm during cold and dark windless winter nights.
Fire up every fossil fuel and nuclear power plant in the USA. Remove all wind and solar from the grid. Build new fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. Eliminate all subsidies and grants for renewable energy and EVs. Strengthen the grid and keep it strong. There I fixed everything for you.
A “Virtual Power Plant”?
GIGO is alive and flourishing.
HOUSTON ….WE HAVE A MATH PROBLEM….what this implies is that they turn you Tesla car battery into a POWER WALL.. I am quoting sales literature…
On average, one Powerwall would run ten 100Watt light bulbs for 12 hours. The average home consumption is 28 kWh/day. One Powerwall will be able to power such a home for 12 hours. Two Powerwall will power it for 18 hours and three Powerwall power it for 24 hours. This is getting into third world mud hut territory
But, butt … what are the Virtual Power Plant’s pronouns?
Hurricane Irma left me without power for 5 days, and Hurricane Ian left me without power for 9 days. Here are a couple of things I learned about dealing with no electricity, they made life a little more bearable. Perhaps something to keep in mind when the government rations your electricity.
1) I used solar outside walkway lights inside my home at night. I used the larger ones, one in each room. I put them out each morning to recharge.
2) I used one gallon, opaque plastic water jugs you can get at the supermarket. I put 4 out in the sunlight each day. In about 3 -4 hours they got very warm. I used them as a nice hot shower at the end of a long day. I refilled them each morning and put them back out.
3) I have a solar power cell phone charger. It recharges each day by leaving it out in the sunlight.
‘I refilled them each morning and put them back out.’
Sounds like your water utility had power to maintain pressure in their mains. If I were fortunate enough to live in FL, I’d definitely consider obtaining a standby generator.
The problem with standby generators is that they need fuel. People were waiting hours in long lines each day to get their quota of fuel if and when it was available. Local blackouts are one thing, but area wide disruption of electricity is another. Too many people, not enough fuel.
Standby generators aren’t supposed to be run continuously, so it should easily be possible to run one intermittently for several days with what you can hold in 2 5-gal gas cans, plus what’s in your car’s gas tank. (Own a decent siphon that you can use to transfer fuel). Obviously, you don’t want to be storing fuel on a long-term basis, just when there’s a major storm in the forecast, in which case it also makes sense to have a fully fueled car in case you need to evacuate.
“Virtual Power Plant”: They pretend to supply power and we pretend to live comfortably.
VPP’s! They truly are coming up with magical solutions. A virtual community where 2+2 = 5! Or what ever number you choose to come up with. Much like the other existential crisis we have on our hands, where our children are being taught to be unicorns, or whatever.
Well, the one thing I haven’t seen mentioned just yet, is, just wait! There is more to come!
Wait til they link your ability to even access the grid to your social credit score! Thats right, have a bit of wrong think, and whamo, into the cooler you go, literally. The world is literally, or virtually, getting crazier by the day! Who would have thought that even ten years ago, the world could be this crazy? But here are!
Virtual Power Plant is doublespeak for Virtual First World Electricity Availability.
Which is to say: Third World Electricity Availability. Check out the grid outages in Mumbai just in 2022.
This article is NOT talking about a “Conspiracy Theory” Electric utilities began actions to implement this “Virtual Power Plant” over FOURTY years ago. As a Consulting Engineer working at five different Real power plants, I have heard Presidents and VP’s say things like “Implementation of TOD (time of day metering) will delay the need for a new PP by five years,” “The Heat Pump, AC, Hot water Heater remote shutoff will avoid shutting down industrial users during peak load days.” And a dozen variations of these statements.” In the early 2000’s Utilities were pushing the FCC to allow higher powered Powerline Networking, similar to. the wired network Wi-Fi Extenders you may have or seen ads for ON STEROIDS, on the entire grid. The “Grid WLAN” would be needed to control everything in your home. The 5G cell service will be used for this.
I have lived in homes that already have these “Switches ” in them. On peak days you come home from work and it’s as if your AC has been off ALL DAY. The Blower is running, but the air coming from the register is the same temperature as the room. On a hot day after comming back from the beach there is no hot water after two people have used it. Next, they will need switches on those $1,500 under- sink hot water heaters – keep in mind there will be no NG after GND. Many utilities are NOW controlling those “Neat” Wi-Fi thermostats, which show you a feel-good temperature as they are designed to not show the actual temperature. [Have doubts about this? get an Infrared Thermometer.]
My thermostat doesn’t have any WiFi or remote control and monitoring capability (as far as I know!) but I have long suspected it is occasionally selling me a bill of goods about the actual temperature in my house. (I do have several other thermometers to keep it honest.) So for example I might have it set to “off”, and it might tell me that my current house temperature is 22 degrees C, which I can verify. But then I set it to “cool the house to 20 degrees”, and instead of switching on my AC unit, it just says “OK, presto, your current temperature is now 20 degrees, enjoy!”, and no AC is engaged. Suspicious!
(I don’t suspect nefarious intent yet, I think it is probably just playing a bit fast and loose with the predictive comfort feature that I can’t turn off. Seems dodgy though. Most of the time it works exactly as I want, it’s just that initial transition and suddenly altered “currently measured” temperature that looks odd.)
That is the same problem I have with my Wi-Fi Thermostat also. Mine is always off by 2 Degrees F, in the energy saving direction as measured by my Netatmo Weather Station with two “Indoor Sensors.” In January, I started getting emails from my electric utility wanting me to register my Thermostat with them and they would give me $20.00 each year for participation. After careful reading I found a sentence explaining that they would use it to reduce demand during severe energy demand periods. The solution is an old Mercury switch thermostat = NO Wi-Fi.
The house already has an utility controlled HP/AC switch which will restrict use for 15 minutes of each hour during peaks, which was required to get the “HP Winter rate,” which makes me wonder why they want more control. Thus, it gets lowered during peaks winter or summer. And I retired from that company. 15 minutes out of the hour I can live with, as it can catch up and I can put the HP into Emergency Heat mode which switches it to NG Furnace, but them setting my thermostat is a NO-GO!
I feel for people that have an ALL-Electric HP for heat. My son does as he has no NG at his house. He has learned he needs a Kerosene heater, and lots of sweaters and blankets.
very true, power companies have myriad names for economy programs that let them throttle your power at their whim. I ran headlong into this a few years ago when I moved into a townhouse in Huntington Beach CA, when we experienced an abnormal heat wave and high temps in the 90F+ for over three weeks. The townhouse had an AC unit, somewhat surprising for a beach town where most homes did not; at any rate I set the thermostat to bring air conditioning on but only got the fan blowing warm air.
Called an HVAC tech to recharge the system and he told me the condenser was fine – the problem was a small square box attached to the side where the electrical supply cables entered the condenser. The box was a power control unit from the utility (Edison) that let the company control power to the condenser. Since it was very high demand due to the heat wave, the control box prevented me getting cooling.
The tech asked if I had signed up for the economy program, which I said no, and he said the prior homeowner likely had done so and when he left Edison simply let the system remain online without telling me. End of story: the tech opened up the electrical supply compartment and bypassed the Edison box. Now I check for such controllers and devices when I move into new places.
Just the latest iteration of socialism’s rationing of shortages. Marxists just can’t wrap their heads around the concept that markets exist to meet human needs and wants rather than to meet their ideological purity.
I think the main thing Marxists can’t wrap their heads around (other than why anyone would be opposed to Marxism) is that people are genetically, biologically, and psychologically different in many ways, and therefore variability in outcome is not, by definition, a consequence of systemic oppression requiring a workers’ revolt to fix.
Naturally they don’t understand free markets either, of course!
Are you freaking kidding me ? A virtual power plant is a smart thermostat, a smart water heater, etc, where they can cut load rather than supplying you with power at your convenience. That is a joke. I had one of those back in the 1990s, they killed the air conditioning in my house for around 6 to 8 hours on Labor Day in 1999 when it was 113 F in Sugar Land, Texas. Never again.