Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution (PTD) and RWE Energy are co-operating in the development of models and technical concepts for the creation of decentralised, ‘virtual’ power plants.

In a two-year pilot project planned to carry through to mid-2009, decentralised plants such as combined heat and power (CHP) plants together with biomass or wind will be linked together to form a virtual power plant controlled from a centralised management system.

The distributed plants will have an electrical power output ranging from 500 kW to a few megawatts each and for the most part will consist of systems that operate in CHP mode or use renewable forms of energy. By marketing the combined electricity production of several power plants together, sales channels which were not previously available to the operator of an individual plant can be utilised, the company says, and as a result, the plant can operate more economically and efficiently.

Highly advanced information and communications technology is required to be able to merge together a number of individual plants to create a virtual power plant and Siemens has developed the DEMS decentralised energy management software system for this purpose.

The control system has already been used by Siemens in several demonstration projects, such as in the Kon-Werl energy park comprising a biomass heating and power plant, a wind power plant and a photovoltaic system.

A statement from Siemens says that in addition to offering economic advantages, the co-ordinated deployment of decentralised generating plants is expected to play a key role in reducing CO2 emissions.

Siemens and RWE are also devising concepts in which mini generating plants such as domestic CHP units up to 10 kW can also be integrated.