Small, decentralized units can only participate in the balancing energy market as a bundle - because this requires an output of at least five MW and this must be available reliably and quickly. The Next Box makes this possible because it bundles the individual systems in the Next Pool and ensures that they are all centrally controllable like a single power plant. This also opens up the option of using generation plants and electricity consumers in line with electricity prices and thus for profit optimization.

Control system

The control system is the technological heart of the Next Pool virtual power plant and is completely managed by our own system engineers. This is where all the information comes together, which the next boxes of all units and the transmission system operators send to us via machine-to-machine communication (M2M). As soon as the data has arrived in the control system, it is re-authenticated by a router cluster with a firewall, decrypted and stored in the right place.

Data types:

The control system stores and processes all the data necessary to calculate the optimal timetables for electricity producers and consumers. For example:

  • Actual performance

  • Readiness of the system or the electricity consumer

  • Power band for control energy

  • Gas or heat storage

  • Actual temperature (e.g. in a cold store)

  • Water levels (e.g. with an industrial pump)

Control energy:

Using optimization algorithms that our system engineers have developed together with our cooperation partners, we write the timetables and feed them back into the control system. Based on this data, we know how much power is available in our virtual power plant and how much control energy we can offer. Our awarded balancing energy bids, the award results, must always be available in the Next Pool during the retention period.

A further optimization loop is constantly being carried out for this purpose: The control system validates all data from the individual systems by checking whether and with what capacity the systems are available. These values ​​are compared with the TSO setpoints. And finally, the optimization setpoints are sent to the individual systems via a communication interface via M2M mobile radio and SIM card, which adapt their performance accordingly.

Electricity price-oriented driving style:

The control system also makes it possible to operate systems based on electricity prices: on the basis of electricity price signals in intraday trading on the EPEX Spot electricity exchange, flexible power generators such as CHPs can be started and shut down with quarter-hour accuracy. These systems therefore only ever produce as much electricity as is currently required in the network. And flexible electricity consumers such as industrial pumps also use this mechanism to drive electricity-market-oriented, because they consume their electricity when it is particularly cheap and the overall demand is low. In this way, our control system can already help stabilize the power grid before the use of balancing energy is even necessary.

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