The first virtual solar power plant will be constructed in Puerto Rico by Sunrun, a San Francisco-based solar energy and storage startup. The 17-megawatt virtual power plant (VPP) is intended to enhance the electrical grid by combining solar energy from more than 7,000 customers’ household solar and battery installations.
Sunrun will focus on getting clients signed up for the VPP program in 2023, and it anticipates network dispatches to start in 2024. The company claims that the enrolled consumers save money on energy costs by producing solar power and that any backup power also pays customers for reselling stored energy to the power grid.
According to Sunrun CEO Mary Powell, Puerto Ricans are prepared to switch to dependable independent sustainable energy solutions that will raise their sense of security and safety in their own homes. By changing the model so that solar energy is produced on rooftops, stored in batteries to power each home, and then shared with neighbors, we are resolving the energy insecurity on the island.
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This creates a clean shared energy economy. Residents will be able to share power with their neighborhood and receive payment in exchange for doing so, in addition to having control over the energy they use at home.
Sunrun’s initiative in Puerto Rico will establish a virtual power plant depending on solar panels and battery storage for a clean energy network that can better survive interruptions. A virtual power plant is a decentralized power network that draws energy from numerous independent sources.
The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) stated that VPPs were the greatest answer in 2019 when the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act was approved to focus on a more sustainable energy system.
Consumers gain a lot from VPPs, including lower utility costs, less fossil fuel pollution, and a more dependable system for everyone. After Hurricane Fiona, many of Sunrun’s customers who have solar plus battery systems reportedly had more than 350,000 hours of backup power.
Hector Jimenez, a Sunrun customer in San Juan, reportedly claimed, “My solar and battery system kept my lights on and my family safe throughout Hurricane Fiona.” My neighbors’ generators ran on diesel, so when the fuel supply started to run low, they were concerned. By recharging portable batteries and lending them to neighbors who required electricity, I was able to assist them.
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Customers that have solar-plus-battery systems and are interested in the VPP will be able to supply backup energy reserves during grid interruptions, but they also have the choice to withdraw from the program at any moment.
On October 26, 2022, the Governing Board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority accepted the provisions of the VPP agreement. The agreement is currently seeking regulatory approval from the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau and the Fiscal Oversight Management Board.