BEIJING: At a shopping mall in heat wave-hit Jiangsu province, customers recently moved about comfortably as air conditioners continuously readjusted their electrical loads to ensure grid stability during peak hours.
This is a typical scenario demonstrating how a virtual power plant works. With scorching weather lingering and economic activity picking up, virtual power plants are gathering steam in China as it seeks ways to address the increasing electricity demand.
“Virtual power plants are not really for generating electricity, but are systems for managing energy,” said Yang Kun, executive president of the China Electricity Council.,
“Installed in heavy power consumers such as factories, they control electrical appliances, including air conditioners and lights. Without affecting normal operations, they help maintain the balance of electrical supply and demand through accurate power management,” Yang said.
Traditionally, a city would build more power plants to address power shortages. Although able to increase peak-hour supply, expanded capacity may stay idle during off-peak hours, which can be for extended periods.
A virtual power plant, by comparison, aims at cutting electricity usage when supply is insufficient, thereby stabilising electricity operations on the demand side.
Yang added that virtual power plants can also play a vital part in China’s green energy shift. — China Daily/ANN