Chile – first virtual power plant in development

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Chilean power distribution company Chilquinta Energía is to introduce what is believed to be Latin America’s first virtual power plant (VPP).

The VPP, which is being developed in partnership with energy storage provider Stem and energy company Copec, will network commercial and industrial (C&I) customer sites to deliver both resilience and backup power.

Stem’s Athena smart energy storage software has been customised to integrate utility and local market data including renewable generation forecasting and monitoring to automatically aggregate and respond to spikes in electricity use and draw on stored power to reduce electricity costs for customers.

The continuous collection of data will be fed in to better inform Athena’s artificial intelligence driven algorithms.

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The system also should ensure continuous power and consistent operations to serve Chilquinta’s real-time needs, demonstrating the ability to dispatch all the sites when power is needed on the grid.

“Copec is focused on driving innovation and sustainability across the energy and mobility segments,” says Mauricio de la Torre, New Energies Leader at Copec.

“Through our partnership with Stem, we have begun to demonstrate the investment returns of smart energy storage and the tremendous potential for Copec to help Chile meet its ambitious climate goals.”

The initiative follows a 2020 agreement between Copec and Stem to bring the latter’s smart energy storage solutions to South America.

The first project has been completed of an energy storage solution for a lubricant manufacturing plant owned by Copec in the Valparaíso region of Chile.

The partnership with Chilquinta also envisages a future collaboration to introduce smart energy storage alongside electric vehicle charging infrastructures and solar project developments.

Stem considers the energy storage market in South America to represent a significant growth opportunity, which should occur alongside the rapid growth envisaged in solar and wind generation and the development of hydrogen technologies.

John Carrington, CEO at Stem, adds: “Our VPP is set to demonstrate tremendous value to utilities in South America that can leverage distributed energy storage systems to stabilise the grid.”