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Economic assessment of virtual power plants in the German energy market — A scenario-based and model-supported analysis


  • Loßner, Martin
  • Böttger, Diana
  • Bruckner, Thomas


The energy transition (“Energiewende”) in Germany will result in a substantial transformation of the energy supply system. Virtual power plants are expected to be important components of the new intelligent energy infrastructure. They aggregate beside different types of distributed generation units also active consumers and storage technologies in order to integrate these in a profit-maximising, system-stabilising, and sustainable way. The assessment of the economic performance of virtual power plants requires a scenario-based and model-supported analysis. In this relation, future energy market conditions are simulated using the scenario methodology. Starting from the year 2015, three scenarios have been identified that illustrate alternative energy developments in Germany by 2030. Based on these scenarios, the additional revenues potential of the modeled virtual power plant is identified when compared to an independent and non-market-oriented operation mode of distributed energy resources. According to the model results, revenues of the VPP can increase by 11% up to 30% in the analyzed scenarios in 2030 due to the market-oriented operation mode. Nevertheless, the amount and composition vary depending on technology-specific subsidies, temporary nature of power demand and price structures in the energy market. Fluctuating renewable energies are expected to benefit from the market-oriented operation mode in the virtual power plant, especially through the EEG direct marketing. The selective and regulated shutdown of renewable energies in times of negative electricity prices may lead to further cost savings. The utilization of temporary price fluctuations in the spot market and the demand-oriented provision of control power offer high additional revenue potential for flexible controllable technologies such as battery storage, biomethane as well as combined heat and power units. Finally, the determination of the long-term profitability of a virtual power plant still requires a full-scale cost–benefit analysis. For this holistic approach, the model results provide a reliable scientific basis.

Suggested Citation

  • Loßner, Martin & Böttger, Diana & Bruckner, Thomas, 2017. "Economic assessment of virtual power plants in the German energy market — A scenario-based and model-supported analysis," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 125-138.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:62:y:2017:i:c:p:125-138
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eneco.2016.12.008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pedro Faria & Zita Vale & José Baptista, 2015. "Demand Response Programs Design and Use Considering Intensive Penetration of Distributed Generation," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(6), pages 1-17, June.
    2. Viebahn, Peter & Soukup, Ole & Samadi, Sascha & Teubler, Jens & Wiesen, Klaus & Ritthoff, Michael, 2015. "Assessing the need for critical minerals to shift the German energy system towards a high proportion of renewables," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 655-671.
    3. Hirth, Lion & Ziegenhagen, Inka, 2015. "Balancing power and variable renewables: Three links," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 1035-1051.
    4. Rosario Miceli, 2013. "Energy Management and Smart Grids," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(4), pages 1-29, April.
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    More about this item


    Virtual power plant; Economic analysis; Scenario analysis; Electricity market; Renewable energy systems; Combined heat and power;

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q47 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy Forecasting
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation


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