General Motors, Google, Ford Partner with RMI to Scale Virtual Power Plants

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Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has formed a Virtual Power Plant Partnership (VP3) with initial funding from General Motors and Google Nest, aimed at catalyzing the industry and helping transform policies to support the scaling of virtual power plants (VPP) in ways that would advance affordable and reliable decarbonization of the power sector.

Through the partnership, RMI will catalog, research, and disseminate the benefits of VPP; develop industry-wide best practices, roadmaps, and standards; and inform and shape policy development.

The founding members of VP3 are eight other companies including Ford, OhmConnect, SPAN, SunPower, and Sunrun.

VP3 will help all communities through virtual power plants to promote the adoption of cost-effective energy, emission reductions, and will help strengthen the power grid.

Virtual Power Plants include portfolios of several households and businesses with the latent potential of their electric vehicles, smart thermostats, appliances, batteries, solar arrays, and additional energy assets to support the grid.

“A growing VPP market also means revenue opportunities for hardware, software, and energy-service companies in the buildings and automotive industries. For large energy users, VPPs can significantly reduce energy spend while providing new revenue streams. Our analysis shows that VPPs can reduce peak power demand and improve grid resilience in a world of increasingly extreme climate events,” said RMI CEO Jon Creyts.

General Motors Vice President and Head of V2X and Battery Solutions Mark Bole said, “VPPs present an exciting opportunity to unlock additional value for homes, businesses, and communities, helping to drive greater energy independence and grid decarbonization. This collaboration underscores GM’s commitment to creating a more resilient grid, with EVs and virtual power plants playing a key role in helping to advance our all-electric future.”

In November 2022, the board of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority approved the solar company, Sunrun’s 17 MW VPP contract to help the hurricane-hit regions on the island by strengthening the power grid while lowering the energy costs for all grid-connected customers.

In India, where the potential is immense, virtual power purchase agreements are still to gain traction, given the lack of clarity in regulations. Mercom had spoken to industry stakeholders to understand the current market situation and the challenges that need to be overcome for the VPP market to grow rapidly.