Sunrun Launching Solar-Based Virtual Power Plant

Sunrun Launching Solar-Based Virtual Power Plant

Sunrun Inc., a company that provides home solar, battery storage and energy services, and Southern California Edison (SCE), a California-based utility, are working together to launch one of the first residential energy storage virtual power plants in the U.S.

Beginning this month and continuing through mid-2021, Sunrun and SCE will network up to 300 of Sunrun’s Brightbox home solar and rechargeable battery systems across Southern California to demonstrate how clean energy stored in Brightbox systems can provide peaking capacity to the electrical grid for Southern California residents. 

The virtual power plant will provide a clean source of energy at times when electricity is needed most, such as during hot summer days and other times when there is a high demand for energy. Families with Brightbox systems will also have access to reliable backup power to keep their lights on and food fresh during outage events. 

The partnership between Sunrun and SCE will demonstrate how residential rooftop solar and batteries support California’s ongoing transition to clean, locally generated electricity.

“As we continue to decarbonize the power grid, it is essential that we find innovative solutions enabling clean, affordable and reliable service,” says Jill Anderson, senior vice president of customer service at SCE.

“The virtual power plant will help us understand how home battery systems can perform similar to single large-capacity energy sources to benefit all customers,” she adds.  

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The program unlocks additional value for both Sunrun and Sunrun customers. Homeowners will earn an incentive for participating in the program, and Sunrun will generate revenue by managing and dispatching the networked home solar and battery-stored energy to the grid when SCE calls an event to meet local grid operational requirements.

Clean energy produced from rooftop solar panels is stored in Sunrun’s Brightbox rechargeable solar battery throughout the day. If there is an outage, Brightbox provides backup electricity to the customer’s home and enables them to power through the event 24/7, with the battery recharging every time the sun comes up. Customers have the choice to back up everything from their entire home to simply essential appliances, depending on the type and number of batteries they choose. The virtual power plant will only make use of this battery capacity on the grid when the customer is not relying on it for backup.

Virtual power plants are being increasingly embraced as technology evolves and utilities and grid operators see the value afforded to the electricity system by residential solar and battery storage.

Photo: Sunrun’s landing page

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