GM, Ford, Google join the virtual power

Companies including GM, Ford, Google and solar power producers have announced they would work together to set standards for expanding the use of virtual power plants (VPPs), systems designed to relieve power grids when supply is scarce.

Energy transition nonprofit RMI would host the initiative, the Virtual Power Plant Partnership (VP3), which would also aim to shape policy to encourage use of the systems, the companies told Reuters.

Virtual power plants bundle thousands of decentralized energy resources such as electric vehicles or electric heaters controlled by intelligent thermostats.

With customers’ permission, they use advanced software to respond to power shortages, such as switching thousands of household batteries, such as those in electric vehicles, from charge to discharge mode, or causing power-consuming devices such as water heaters to reduce consumption.

According to Reuters, VPPs are positioned for “explosive” growth in the United States, where the 2021 Inflation Mitigation Act created or expanded tax incentives for electric cars, electric water heaters, solar panels and other devices whose performance and consumption can be coordinated to smooth the grid Burden.

RMI estimates that VPPs could reduce US peak demand by 60 GW by 2030, the average consumption of 50 million homes, and by more than 200 GW by 2050, Reuters said.

Rob Threlkeld, director of global energy strategy at General Motors, told Reuters that VP3 could “demonstrate that electric vehicles can become a reliable asset for the retail utility and/or transmission system operator” and “can be an advantage for a homeowner fleet customer”.

According to Reuters, VPPs have already improved network reliability in countries such as Germany and Australia, as well as some US states.

Other founding members of VP3 are Ford, SunPower and Sunrun, Reuters said.


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