Two big automakers and Google have partnered with solar power companies to scale the virtual power plant market to support electricity grids with batteries in electric cars, appliances and other battery-powered products.
RMI, a nonprofit group focused on emissions reduction, cost-effective power and a more regeneratable power grid, will host the partnership. It said initial funding for the effort came from General Motors and Google Nest. Founding members of the Virtual Power Plant Partnership, or VP3, also include Ford and solar power providers.
Virtual power plants, or VPPs, collect the electric capacity of homes and businesses to help address peaks in power demand, easing loads when supply is short. When there’s a need, power from EVs, smart thermostats and other sources is discharged, or consumption by power-using sources is reduced.
RMI says VPPs have the potential for “explosive” growth that could positively impact multiple industries, including automotive.
“Our analysis shows that VPPs can reduce peak power demand and improve grid resilience in a world of increasingly extreme climate events,” said the nonprofit's CEO, Jon Creyts, in a press release on the VP3 partnership. “A growing VPP market also means revenue opportunities for hardware, software, and energy-service companies in the buildings and automotive industries. For large energy users, VPPs can significantly reduce energy spend while providing new revenue streams.”
GM Vice President and Head of V2X and Battery Solutions said in the release that, “This collaboration underscores GM’s commitment to creating a more resilient grid, with EVs and virtual power plants playing a key role in helping to advance our all-electric future.”