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What is a virtual power plant?

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Virtual power plants, defined

A virtual power plant (VPP) is a network of distributed energy resources (DERs)  

Distributed energy resources are decentralized and smaller-scale grid-connected energy resources that can generate, store, or manage electricity. DERs include energy storage, distributed generation, building management systems, smart thermostats, electric vehicles (EV) and EV charging, demand response technologies, onsite wind and solar, microgrids, and more.

VPPs are created by aggregating DERs to provide energy and other grid services. VPPs get paid by grid operators to reduce demand on the grid and/or generate power, just like a traditional power plant gets paid to generate power. By aggregating DERs, VPPs can achieve the scale and operational simplicity of large, traditional power plants. VPP operators like Voltus aggregate and enroll DER owners to participate in our VPP network. When the grid needs power, VPP members are called on and paid to reduce their grid electricity use using their DERs.

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Virtual power plants provide both routine and emergency capacity to grid operators

Virtual power plants provide critical support to the grid


Virtual power plants provide additional and diversified energy resources to grid operators and utilities.

Grid resilience

In the face of temporary grid imbalances or blackouts, virtual power plants provide much needed relief to the grid to avoid service interruptions.

Emissions reduction

Virtual power plants can reduce energy used and avoid the use of peaking power plants, which are associated with high emissions output.


By adding more resources/supply to the grid, virtual power plants can bring down the overall cost of electricity to end-consumers.


Virtual power plants put power into the hands of energy consumers by giving them the ability to participate in the market just like traditional power plants.

Support renewables

Virtual power plants offer additional capacity to balance the variability associated with renewable power.

Virtual power plants vs. traditional power plants

Virtual power plants and traditional power plants both provide essential services to the grid, however, their structure differs.

Virtual power plants

  • Make power available to grid operators by conserving or shifting energy use; distributed power generation
  • Help reduce carbon emissions
  • Help scale renewable energy growth by providing additional resources to balance supply variability
  • Can scale and adjust capacity quickly by aggregating DERs
  • Portfolio aggregation balances over- and under-performing VPP members

Traditional & virtual power plants

  • Offer and sell grid operators capacity, energy, and energy reserves
  • Connected to the grid
  • Support both routine and emergency grid reliability
  • Operated and controlled by dedicated staff

Traditional power plants

  • Central power production with a centralized, physical location
  • Often rely on fossil fuels, which can lead to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental and social concerns
  • Can take years to build with fixed capacity
  • Can have a single point of failure
  • Are often unavailable in extreme weather conditions

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