Graphic by DEWA shows how the new system digitally connects various sectors Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has enhanced integration between different energy resources in its smart grid through its Virtual Power Plant (VPP), the first of its kind in the region.

The first phase has aggregated the Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) operated by DEWA’s R&D Centre, and managed them as a single mixed portfolio of generation and load connected to the grid. The VPP is an advanced technology based on aggregation, orchestration, Artificial Intelligence (AI) based forecasting, and optimisation to integrate various types of DERs to support DEWA’s smart grid.

As a digital platform, it establishes connectivity to many distributed, small and medium scale DER units such as solar photovoltaic, battery storage, electric vehicle charging stations, and other flexible loads. The aim is to enable the participation of these DERs to support the network operation, and maximise their value to the grid operator and end customer by providing grid services such as peak shaving, frequency regulation or energy balancing.

Next phase

The successful completion of the first phase of the VPP project resulted from a fruitful research collaboration between DEWA’s R&D Centre at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park and Generac Grid Services (GSS). The project’s next phase is to build a more comprehensive techno-economic feasibility study for the wide deployment of the VPP on DEWA’s grid, define the most desirable use cases for DEWA’s distribution and transmission networks, and implement them on a larger scale.

HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and chief operating officer of DEWA, said that the VPP increases renewable energy integration capabilities. This supports DEWA’s efforts to achieve the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Net Zero Emissions Strategy 2050 to provide 100% of the energy production capacity from clean energy sources by 2050.

“We use research and development to explore and shape the future of the energy sector and make Dubai a smart and sustainable city... The total investment in DEWA’s Smart Grid programme is Dh7 billion. It is a major pillar in the success of smart cities. It also ensures continuity and availability of services around the clock,” Al Tayer said.

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Through its VPP, DEWA has integrated the following DERs: Electric Vehicles with a total consumption of 132 kilowatts; Battery Energy Storage Sodium Sulfur (NaS) and Lithium Iron Li+ of a total capacity of 2.4 ourmegawatts, 8 megawatt-hour; Chiller system at the R&D Centre representing flexible loads of total power consumption of 390 kilowatts; Outdoor Testing Facility at R&D Centre with 12-kilowatt PV Inverter; Residential PV inverters of 9 kilowatts a Smart Grid Station with PV Solar inverter of 200 kilowatts; Battery Energy Storage of 120kilowatts; and EV charging stations with 44kilowatts,” said Waleed Bin Salman, executive vice president of business development and excellence at DEWA.

The total flexibility provided by the VPP in this pilot project is approximately 3.3 megawatts. DEWA’s next step is to identify and aggregate similar sites to provide additional flexibility to operate DEWA’s grid more efficiently and reliably.