In this research paper, we focus on a new type of system. Virtual power plants (VPPs) are networked socio-technical systems that aggregate multiple energy generation, storage, and/or consumption assets, using a centralized digital control process to participate in the wholesale electricity market and in the grid balancing mechanism. We analyze how VPPs contribute to the resilience of the power grid, as well as the limits of these contributions. We also analyze the financial, socio-spatial, metabolic, and politico-institutional changes and the impacts to the centralized power grid caused by the involvement of VPPs. We conclude by shedding light on the vulnerabilities inherent in this new system configuration, which relies heavily on the effectiveness of price signals, the economic rationality of operators, and the vigilance of energy regulation authorities.
- virtual power plants
- power grid resilience
- digital tools
- socio-spatial and politico-institutional implications