Japan is restructuring its electricity market and competing energy suppliers, unbundling grid and competitive balancing markets are the results. Digitisation can enable system operators, producers, traders, consumers and storage providers to co-operate and use the renewable power instead of wasting it. This hypothesis is the background for a study conducted by the German-Japanese Energy Transition Council (GJETC). The Wuppertal Institute and the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) as the scientific secretariats of the GJETC, analysed concepts of virtual power plants and their underlying business models as well as the use of Blockchain technology. The focus was set on case studies such as the German company Next Kraftwerke and the US energy supplier Pacific Gas & Electric. First results have been discussed at the 7th meeting of the GJETC held these days in Tokyo.
The study shows that Virtual Power Plants (VPP) business models may be largely dependent upon the regulatory framework, renewable energy resources, the electricity supply system as well as the electricity market system. Experiences from Germany show that for example the gradual expiration of FIT (Feed-in Tariff), which is also the case for Japan, will create a favourable business environment for VPP. IT systems and market structure on the other hand currently do not seem to influence VPP models significantly. However, as Germany is the only country with fully commercialised VPP so far this might very well change in the future as maturing markets might lead to different developments and results in other countries.
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