Community based virtual power plants

cVPP is a project funded in 2017 by the Interreg North-West Europe Programme with cofinancing from multiple other sources. In the first 3 years of the project, the partners developed a socio-technical concept of a community based virtual power plant (cvpp) and have tested it in 3 communities in Ireland, Netherlands and Belgium. Energent, a Flemish cooperative in Ghent and member of is the leading partner of the pilot site in Ghent (Belgium). On top of that the project developed a Mobilization and Replication (MoRe) model to guide 9 other communities in configuring their own cVPPs. In this initial phase, the cVPP built a strong network with more and more stakeholders, including and some of our members.

Cvpp logo

Upscaling of cVPPs

In 2020, after successfully developing and testing the cVPP and the MoRe model in three pilots, Interreg NWE decided to fund a second period to continue the work and scale it up to new sectors, actors and territories. The project moved away from a strong focus on replication (doing more of the same) towards socio-technical upscaling (gaining critical mass). In this context of technical upscaling, the partners upgraded the community equipment with new flexible assets such as heat pumps, EVs and batteries. Social upscaling concerns adapting their business models making it possible for less affluent housing cooperatives or industries to join the operating cVPPs as well.

As part of territorial upscaling, the partners guide new communities in taking the first steps in configuring their own cVPPs by using the training material and the MoRe model developed in the first phase of the project.

The current transposition of the new European law on Electricity and Renewables into national laws has created new opportunities for energy communities, thus the project includes those insights in the revision of their methodologies. joins the project

In the second part of the project, cVPP collaborates with another Interreg NEW project – ECCOsupporting the growth of local Energy Community Co-Operatives (ECCOs), both in effectiveness and in numbers. In the ECCO network around 100 communities and cooperatives, both established and starting ones, are working together and exchanging knowledge., the federation of citizen energy cooperatives is closely involved in the project to ensure the long-term support of these communities. No doubt that the ECCO network provides a fruitful ground for the deployment of cVPPs. And vice versa, the ECCOs are well interested in the cvpp concept and its supporting methodologies to support their growth and services. Therefore both projects started intensively working together from the beginning of 2020. bridges both projects and facilitates the promotion of the cvpp concept in her network.

The Cvpp concept

Driven by the growing concerns about CO2 emissions, recent years have seen a substantial increase of renewables. However, their growing deployment, intermittent nature and the lack of storage cause grid problems. Through an ICT platform that reacts to price changes, energy flows and weather conditions, cVPP facilitates bottom-up energy initiatives to aggregate distributed generation and flexibility and thereby help release the grid congestion. Being organized by a community and driven by their needs however, cVPP also works for citizens. It empowers them to become smart prosumers and participate in the energy management. cVPP can thereby contribute to democratization of the energy markets and radically accelerate fair energy transition.

Figure - cVPP empowers communities to become collective smart prosumers and participate in the management of energy, not only its consumption and production. (c) Luc van Summeren

Cvpp concept

In 2020 cVPP has won the citizens' Award for Sustainable Energy Innovation.

The cVPP project, the ECCO project and are thrilled to be building synergies and democratising our energy system together!