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Ride-sharing has become such a common part of life and going out that sometimes it’s hard to imagine how we existed without it.

One day, somebody had an idea to use their own car in a way which could benefit themselves (by making money) and others (by getting them places in a more convenient way). Things really took off from there. This isn’t too far from what is happening in the energy space at the moment – but instead of shiny sedans with complimentary water and mints, in the sphere of energy it’s all about Virtual Power Plants (or VPPs).

A VPP is a collection of small energy resources such as solar PV, battery systems and electric vehicles which work together to store energy or feed it into the grid for use, when it’s needed most. In a VPP, customers can choose to share control of their distributed  energy resources (such as Solar PV or batteries) with their retailer or VPP aggregator. 

Here’s how  you could be ‘ubering’ your energy in the near future.

Your solar power could help others

Overall, VPPs should create less need for large-scale centralised generation assets such as a coal or gas power station, or the need for poles and wires to carry this electricity to your home and businesses. This is not only a step towards a more sustainable future, but it is possible that it could reduce the costs of generating electricity as the renewables would be doing more of the work.

Your solar power could help the overall power supply

VPPs are what’s known as ‘decentralised’ energy systems, since the power comes from a range of sources rather than one physical plant generating electricity. A decentralised system could help to keep the network stable by storing and sharing energy across a community as needed.

When small-scale energy resources (also known as distributed energy resources) can be joined together (or “aggregated”) and coordinated to meet peaks and troughs in demand, it is called a “flexible supply”. This flexibility contributes to a more secure and greener energy system.