The Faroe Islands are the first place in the world where a virtual power plant is used to recreate balance in an island power system by decoupling large industrial units automatically, in less than a second from the main power system and thereby avoiding systemic blackouts. In more technical terms the virtual power plant delivers so-called fast frequency demand response.
This development within the world of smart grids may prove to be key in islands’ as well as nations’ moves towards more renewable energy whilst maintaining high levels of supply security.
Designed to protect against sudden power failures, or decreases in the power production, the virtual power plant system, Power Hub, developed by DONG Energy, will provide the Faroe Islands with a more secure energy supply, allowing them to integrate the five-fold increase in wind generation planned over the next two years.
Power Hub has been developed by DONG Energy and has been used as a demonstration platform within the scope of the TWENTIES Project, the EU’s largest R&D energy project to date with a total budget of €56.8m, and a contribution by the European Commission of close to €32m. TWENTIES aims to give Europe the capacity to increase renewable wind energy integration in the system without compromising its reliability or performance.
Launching the smart grid innovation Evert den Boer, senior vice president of international sales at DONG Energy said, “We are delighted to see that the fast frequency demand response solution works and in fact strengthens the operational performance of the Faroese power system. Smart grid solutions are the future and will play an important role in Europe’s green transition. This bears witness to the solution’s replication potential and we are already exploring how it can be commercialised.”
The Faroe Islands have some of the world’s best wind resources, due to their position in the Atlantic Ocean. But the islands’ power system is small and vulnerable, with a high number of blackouts compared to continental Europe. The islands only have a few power plants, no interconnectors to other countries, and are challenged by harsh weather conditions with frequent storms.
Despite the basic fact that this is one of the most difficult places in the world to integrate large amounts of variable and abundant renewable energy, it has chosen to pursue the renewables path. Therefore, DONG Energy was an ideal partner in applying smart grid solutions to ensure the Faroe Islands’ supply security.
Terje Nielsen, project manager at SEV, added, “From SEV’s point of view there is an enormous potential in the fast frequency demand response solution in the Faroe Islands, and if the half year test period turns out to be successful, SEV’s intention is to identify more industrial customers with flexible consumption, suitable for being integrated in the Power Hub system, therefore increasing the total aggregated amount of power placed in the fast frequency demand response concept. It should be fairly easy to add more industrial units and thereby double the flexible load capacity.”