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Economic assessment of virtual power plants in the German energy market — A scenario-based and model-supported analysis

Martin Loßner, Diana Böttger and Thomas Bruckner

Energy Economics, 2017, vol. 62, issue C, 125-138

Abstract: The energy transition (“Energiewende”) in Germany will result in a substantial transformation of the energy supply system. Virtual power plants are expected to be important components of the new intelligent energy infrastructure. They aggregate beside different types of distributed generation units also active consumers and storage technologies in order to integrate these in a profit-maximising, system-stabilising, and sustainable way. The assessment of the economic performance of virtual power plants requires a scenario-based and model-supported analysis. In this relation, future energy market conditions are simulated using the scenario methodology. Starting from the year 2015, three scenarios have been identified that illustrate alternative energy developments in Germany by 2030. Based on these scenarios, the additional revenues potential of the modeled virtual power plant is identified when compared to an independent and non-market-oriented operation mode of distributed energy resources. According to the model results, revenues of the VPP can increase by 11% up to 30% in the analyzed scenarios in 2030 due to the market-oriented operation mode. Nevertheless, the amount and composition vary depending on technology-specific subsidies, temporary nature of power demand and price structures in the energy market. Fluctuating renewable energies are expected to benefit from the market-oriented operation mode in the virtual power plant, especially through the EEG direct marketing. The selective and regulated shutdown of renewable energies in times of negative electricity prices may lead to further cost savings. The utilization of temporary price fluctuations in the spot market and the demand-oriented provision of control power offer high additional revenue potential for flexible controllable technologies such as battery storage, biomethane as well as combined heat and power units. Finally, the determination of the long-term profitability of a virtual power plant still requires a full-scale cost–benefit analysis. For this holistic approach, the model results provide a reliable scientific basis.

Keywords: Virtual power plant; Economic analysis; Scenario analysis; Electricity market; Renewable energy systems; Combined heat and power (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C61 Q41 Q47 Q48 Q55 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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