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sonnen | April 8, 2020

sonnen presents revolutionary software for connecting household devices to virtual power plants

With the newly developed software, energy storage or other devices can be connected to form a virtual power plant via a simple Internet connection. This makes it even easier for households to perform tasks in the power grid that have previously been reserved for industrial suppliers. Since no additional devices are required, the costs of networking fall to a fraction.

Wildpoldsried, April 08, 2020 - With the introduction of the new "sonnenVPP" software, sonnen is continuing on its path to becoming a full-service provider for a new, decentralized energy system.

In November 2018 sonnen received the approval (prequalification) for a network of home storage units to participate in the control power market. sonnen has now converted this virtual power plant to its newly developed software.

The software is based on the recently amended minimum IT requirements of the four German transmission system operators (TSOs). sonnen is now able to operate its virtual power plant, which consists of thousands of home storage systems throughout Germany, up to 90% more cost-efficiently. Grid services such as Frequency Containment Reserves (FCR, previously "primary control power") can thus be provided in a permanently stable and significantly more cost-effective manner.

The new minimum IT requirements make it possible for the first time to network so-called micro-installations of up to 25 kW - which include home storage systems such as the sonnenBatterie, but also heat pumps or charging devices for electric cars - via the public Internet. This requires an encrypted VPN connection, a “protocol switch” and other security-related precautions.

The software developed by sonnen meets all those requirements, allowing sonnen to participate in the control power market with "sonnenVPP" since the end of March 2020. Previously, this required additional equipment which is now no longer needed, making it much cheaper to market the systems. 

The storage systems, networked via the Internet, are combined into individual bundles of 2 MW in a data centre. The separation from the Internet via the protocol switch is carried out there in accordance with the specifications of the TSO. Previously, it was necessary for each individual battery to have its own communication channel independent of the Internet and its own protocol switch, which considerably increased the effort and complexity as additional hardware was required.

For grid operators, small, networked systems offer the advantage that they can continue to stabilize the networks even in the event of a large-scale failure of the Internet or mobile communications infrastructure. This is ensured by an intelligent algorithm that allows the individual sonnenBatteries to temporarily participate in the bundle despite the loss of an Internet connection.

"In the new energy world, there is an almost infinite number of small systems like energy storage, heat pumps, electric cars or even air conditioning systems. Only when they can be easily connected can they be used sensibly in the energy system and take over tasks of conventional power plants. Our new software is the solution that connects those units cost-effectively and permits them to take over important tasks in the power grid", says Jean-Baptiste Cornefert, Managing Director of sonnen eServices and adds: "This is made possible by the changed IT requirements of the transmission network operators. Our electricity storage facilities are now recognised as such and no longer have to pretend that they are a nuclear power plant in a matchbox".

sonnen not only uses the new software itself, but also assigns licenses to other companies, as it has already done in a joint project with the British energy provider Centrica and in a joint project for example. The patent-pending technology can thus also be used by third-party providers who want to provide cost-effective system services. 

"This is a paradigm shift in the energy world, as the new IT requirements of the transmission system operators will put prosumers on an equal position with the large power plants and enable them to assume stability tasks in the power grid. That can be done with technology many people have at home anyway: a device such as an energy storage or heat pump and an Internet connection. And for this we have now developed a real killer app," says Stephan Lindner, head of the VPP technology department at sonnen eServices.

Customers of sonnen are already benefiting from the participation of their energy storage in the virtual power plant. Via the sonnenFlat power contract, they can reduce their electricity costs to 0 euros and also receive an annual profit share for participating in the virtual power plant.