AutoGrid and Willdan create flexible grid capacity

  • July 11, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Californian companies AutoGrid and Willdan are collaborating to create flexible capacity using heat pump water heaters in virtual power plants.

AutoGrid announced the collaboration with Willdan to accelerate the adoption of heat pump water heaters to decarbonise buildings by replacing emissions-intensive, gas-fired water heaters. This collaboration will leverage AutoGrid’s virtual power plant (VPP) platform to add flexible grid capacity, starting in the Caiso energy market.

The Californian Independent Systems Operator (Caiso) oversees the operation of California’s bulk electric power system, transmission lines and electricity market generated and transmitted by its member utilities.

The flexible capacity, when combined with other resources managed by AutoGrid’s VPP platform, strengthens the grid and helps reduce the probability of blackouts during periods of peak energy demand.

AutoGrid is expanding its suite of artificial intelligence-driven energy internet applications that allow utilities, electricity retailers, renewable energy project developers and energy service providers to deliver clean, affordable and reliable energy in a distributed energy world. Collaboration with Willdan places heat pump water heaters into appropriate distributed energy resource (DER) programmes, which should have a positive impact on the environment while providing customers with an additional revenue stream.

“One of our core goals at AutoGrid is to find companies that align with our values, integrate naturally into our offerings, and help support advances in the industry,” said Farshid Arman, AutoGrid senior director. “This synergy will help consumers make smart choices and enrol their connected heat pump water heaters easily into DER programmes.”

Willdan is a national company that provides consulting, technical expertise, financing options and energy-efficient upgrades for utilities, government agencies and private industry. It is the programme implementer for several energy efficiency programmes on behalf of the largest utilities in California.

This collaboration serves the needs of the California grid as the state is ramping up more flexible energy resources to be better prepared for a potential capacity shortfall.

Founded in 2010, AutoGrid’s mission is to accelerate access to sustainable energy to combat climate change. Its artificial intelligence-driven software makes electric vehicles, batteries, roof-top solar, utility-scale wind and other DERs smarter. By enabling prediction, optimisation and real-time control of millions of energy assets at an unprecedented scale, AutoGrid is making the vision of a decentralised, decarbonised and democratised new energy world a reality. The company offers fleet owners, energy-as-a-service companies, renewable project developers, utilities and electricity retailers the ability to build, own, operate and participate in intelligent and scalable VPPs to disrupt the dependency on fossil-fuel based energy. The AutoGrid Flex platform manages over 6000MW of VPPs in 15 countries.