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US virtual power plant and vehicle-to-grid specialists Swell Energy and Nuvve in partnership


US virtual power plant (VPP) project company Swell Energy has formed a partnership with electric mobility specialist Nuvve to explore the integration of different distributed energy resources (DERs) for homes and businesses. 

The pair are launching a strategic engagement that will investigate how electric vehicles (EVs) and associated infrastructure and hardware can participate in Swell’s VPP network.

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Swell has under contract more than 300MWh of VPP programmes with US utilities in regions including Hawaii, New York and California, with plans for aggressive expansion underway. 

The virtual power plant model aggregates together large numbers of residential battery storage systems, with and without (although mostly with) rooftop solar PV. Aggregating them together means they can be controlled and dispatched in a coordinated manner, helping the utilities to manage the flows of power on their networks and reducing reliance on thermal power plants. 

In February, Swell Energy unveiled GridAmp, the company’s proprietary distributed energy resources management (DERMs) software platform, as work gets underway on its 80MW VPP project across three Hawaiian Islands with utility Hawaiian Electric (HECO).

GridAmp uses optimisation algorithms and machine learning models to inform and automate the operation of DER assets in a VPP with Swell claiming it can maximise revenues and benefits for both utility and customer across multiple value streams.

Utilities get to use the stored energy to perform grid-balancing functions like ancillary services or to manage peak demand on their networks, while customers are paid sums for the use of their systems which reduce their cost of ownership. 

Nuvve meanwhile produces vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology which enables batteries in EVs to be leveraged as an energy system resource, adding bi-directional power flows to EV charging equipment — in other words energy comes out of, as well as going into, electric vehicles. 

Recent projects for Nuvve have included electric school buses in Colorado with V2G capabilities and a V2G pilot for customers of a rural electric cooperative supplier in New Hampshire. 

Initial 2MW virtual power plant commitment

In the new partnership, Swell and Nuvve, both headquartered in California, want to advance DERMs technology for residential and commercial markets. This will include developing technologies that allow customers to integrate solar PV, smart EV charging and battery storage into one package.

The bi-directional charging that Nuvve’s cloud-based software platform, called GIVe — short for Grid Integrated Vehicle — means that vehicles can become an asset for performing grid services and load management for grid-connected buildings. 

It will be integrated with Swell’s VPP offering. Initially, Nuvve will have access to 2MW from Swell’s utility contracts in 2022, with the partnership expected to grow if successful.

The pair will initially focus on home energy systems but will quickly look to also offer solutions for commercial buildings and commercial EV fleets. 

“Integrating intelligent EV charging operations into Swell’s smart home energy system is a necessary next step in bridging to an increasingly electrified future where customers have greater control of their assets, opportunities to transact with the power grid, and have dependable energy resources available around the clock,” Swell Energy CEO Suleman Khan said.

The partnership will create a comprehensive solution for Nuvve’s commercial customers, while bringing the smart mobility company into the residential space for the first time, Nuvve CEO and chairman Gregory Poilasne said. 

“This is one more way we are catalysing the adoption of EVs, creating a more resilient grid, and fulfilling our vision to accelerate the transition to clean energy,” Poilasne said. 

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