The government of South Korea plans to invest in the development of a virtual power plant, according to a December 10 article from the Yonhap News Agency.
The project, which will reportedly cost 4 billion Korean won (about $3.5 Million USD) was proposed by the Korean city of Busan – where Korean officials intend to build a blockchain hub to rival Zug in Switzerland. Nuri Telecom, Pusan National University, Busan City Gas, and the Korean Industrial Complex Corporation are also involved in the project.
According to the article, the new virtual power plant will be based on blockchain technology – most likely to facilitate the linking of data between different power sources – and is intended to operate as a single power plant using "idle power from multiple distributed power sources."
When you think of a power plant, you most likely get visions of vast compounds buzzing with giant turbines, transformers, and miles of cables and wires all working together to ensure that customers have the power they need when they need it. In modern times, one may even picture rows and rows of windmills or solar panels, but they may not envision "sprawling networks of independent batteries, solar panels, and energy-efficient buildings that are tied together and remotely controlled by software and data systems," as a Yale University blog post on virtual power plants puts it.
Basically, virtual power plants work by connecting different energy sources – solar, wind, and combined heat and power systems – through a central IT control system, which could incorporate blockchain technology (though perhaps not the most decentralized one).
According to an explainer on next-kraftwerke.com, this central system is then able to establish data transfer between all power plants participating in the network. Once linked together, the central control system can "monitor, forecast, and dispatch the networked units." In turn, this system allows energy traders to use live data to better forecast and trade renewable energies.
In theory, the ability to better forecast and trade renewable energy will cause a reduction in consumer energy demands during peak times and provide more renewable energy to specific areas in need. Virtual power plants also have the potential to decrease dependency on conventional energy sources and avoid grid disruption.
The Yonhap News Agency quotes Korean officials saying that with the new virtual power plant, "Busan will take the lead in the futuristic power relay trading [and the] virtual power plant platform market."
Translations by Google.