The overall objective of the VPP-WARD project is to develop a new set of AI solutions that is more interpretable and robust when data quality or quantity is low, to optimally deploy and coordinate Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) aggregated as Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) for achieving the maximum grid resilience when facing the threat of more frequent natural hazards and extreme events.
What is a DER?
DERs are small, modular energy generation and storage units, e.g., wind turbines, photovoltaics, batteries, and electric vehicles, that could be connected directly to the power distribution network. DERs play a critical role in achieving Net Zero. Presently there are over 1 million homes with solar panels in the UK. With the green energy transition well under way in the UK, by 2050 there could be tens of millions of DERs connected to the UK power grid.
Although DERs have many benefits, e.g., a reduced carbon footprint and improved energy affordability, they present complex challenges for network operators (e.g., low DER visibility, bi-directional power flow, and voltage anomalies), creating a major barrier to Net Zero. Meanwhile, natural hazards and extreme events are an increasing threat not only to humans but also power grid resilience - a direct impact is the power cuts, e.g., Storms "Dudley", "Eunice" and "Franklin" in February 2022 left over a million homes without electricity.
How best to manage millions of DERs is still an open question, especially for improving the grid resilience to natural hazards and extreme events, e.g., storms and heatwaves. This project will develop innovative physics-informed Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions for enabling Virtual Power Plants (VPP), capable of aggregating and managing many diverse DERs; not only improving decision-making for network operators but also enhancing the grid resilience to natural hazards and extreme events. These could also lead to reduced energy bills for millions of UK energy consumers, less power cuts during extreme events, to greater adoption and more efficient management of DERs, and ultimately to enable rapid progress towards Net Zero.