Growing investments in distributed energy resources — renewable distributed energy generation, demand response (DR), energy storage, and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) — will require new business and technology platforms to manage the increased level of diversity and complexity, according to Pike Research. The increasing variability of both generation (from solar and wind) and loads (due to DR and PEVs) will also require more sophisticated and decentralized decision making. As a result of all of these factors, interest in virtual power plants (VPPs) is gaining significant momentum within the industry.

One of the best ways to capture the essence of today’s most commercially viable VPP is this simple definition: the ability to tap resources in real time, and with enough granularity, to control the load profiles of customers, aggregate these resources, and put them up on a trader’s desk. Unlike microgrids, utilities will have to play a major role in the evolution of the VPP market, by nature of their reliance upon the transmission and distribution grid infrastructure, including smart meters. While there are several distinct segments within the VPP market, there is currently an explosion of interest in DR-based VPPs, which are expected to continue leading the way in terms of capacity additions over the next few years.

This Pike Research report provides an in-depth assessment of the market opportunity for VPPs including a comprehensive examination of the four major market segments: demand response-based VPPs, supply-side VPPs, mixed asset VPPs, and wholesale auction VPPs. The report includes detailed market forecasts through 2017, including three growth scenarios for each segment. The study also provides profiles and SWOT analysis for key industry players in the VPP market.