February 8, 2019 Read More →

Sunrun’s virtual power plant wins bid in New England capacity auction

Greentech Media:

Sunrun will get its chance to prove that home batteries and solar panels can stack up against traditional power plants.

The San Francisco-based company won a 20-megawatt bid in the forward capacity auction for ISO New England, which operates the electric grid in six northeastern states. That auction ensures that enough grid capacity will be online in 2022.

Unlike previous winners, Sunrun did not bid a traditional power plant. Its product is a network of small solar and battery installations that will go into roughly 5,000 customer homes across the region. The company is promising to aggregate across those systems to deliver the necessary power to the grid, while also keeping the host customers happy.

Sunrun has vocally promoted this vision, as it expanded from simply installing solar panels into battery storage and grid services business lines. Many other companies and analysts share the belief that distributed resources, acting in concert, can provide a cleaner, more resilient and cheaper alternative to centralized grid architectures.

Real world implementation of this model, sometimes referred to as a “virtual power plant,” has lagged behind its invocations in cleantech conferences and white papers. With this win, Sunrun showed it could compete in an open auction alongside conventional resources like gas plants and hydropower.

By power plant standards, 20 megawatts is small. But it’s groundbreaking for virtual power plants to date. Sunrun completed 5,000 installations of its BrightBox home solar and battery system across the country by the end of 2018; now it must match that number in the six New England states in three years.

More: Sunrun wins big in New England capacity auction with home solar and batteries

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