eastwest connect

Every NIO power station can be a virtual power plant

Every NIO power station can be a virtual power plant

It is learned from NIO that the hot summer of 2022 has been destined to be extraordinary.

Since June, the daily maximum temperature of 277 national weather stations across the country has exceeded the historical extreme.

Due to the tight power supply and demand caused by high temperature and drought, large-scale power limiting in some places have recently occurred. Air conditioners in many factories and office buildings were turned off, and there was a spectacle of migrant workers collectively “bringing ice to work”.

The power limiting has even affected many electric vehicle charging and swapping facilities. In order to ensure residential electricity consumption during peak periods, several NIO swap stations in the urban area of Chengdu temporarily suspended their services.

Now, let’s get to the point: When encountering a similar imbalance of power supply and demand, is there any other option for NIO power station besides passively pressing the pause button?

How does NIO’s power swap station “cut peaks and fill valleys” to adjust the power grid?

The answer is yes, as long as the conditions are met, the power station is fully capable of taking the initiative to feed back the power grid, turning it into a “small virtual power plant”.

At almost the same time as the Chengdu power swap station pressed the pause button, in Hefei, thousands of miles away, under the unified dispatching control of the power supply company, 15 NIO power swap stations collectively participated in the grid peak regulation of the city’s “virtual power plant”. While not affecting users’ normal power swap use, the power load of the power swap stations has been adjusted by 8 MWh in five days, which is equivalent to “saving” real-time power consumption for more than 3,000 ordinary households.

How does NIO power station do it?

Taking the recent power limiting incident in the southwest as an example, the reason for the limiting itself is not complicated. As the province with the largest hydropower resources in the country, Sichuan’s hydropower installed capacity accounts for more than 80%. The extreme drought and heat and reduced precipitation since July have greatly reduced the power supply capacity of hydropower, while the demand for air-conditioning power has risen sharply. This rise and fall resulted in a large gap in electricity consumption.

In fact, in addition to hydropower, clean energy such as wind power and photovoltaics are generally affected by seasons and weather, and are generally subject to high volatility and poor predictability. Carbon peaking and carbon neutrality require the country to build a new power system with clean energy as the main body, but how can clean energy overcome the problem of poor reliability of continuous power supply?

This requires planned frequency and peak regulation to help the grid overcome the imbalance of power generation and power consumption. With the increasing number of electric vehicles in the country and the increasing energy storage capacity of on-board power batteries, in addition to traditional peak regulation measures, we can also organize electric vehicles to fully interact with the power grid to to achieve the purpose of cutting peaks and filling valleys and promoting clean energy consumption.

Each vehicle can contribute its own power to grid regulation, such as charging and replacing electricity during valley hours as much as possible. Specific to each city, according to NIO Energy’s research, when the city’s vehicles that can participate in grid interaction reach 2,000 to 5,000 vehicles, the grid adjustment capability is significant. At this point, participating in grid interaction requires two things:

The first is orderly charging at times specified by the grid. That is to say, charging during the period of ‘power surplus’ rather than ‘power shortage’ in the power grid can not only help the power grid to ‘cut peaks and fill valleys’, but also lower the price of electricity, allowing users to obtain corresponding benefits.

Based on the user’s power-on big data, NIO’s “Energy Cloud” can mobilize charging and swapping resources to fully interact with the power grid, and charge during load valleys. Since clean energy such as wind power mostly peaks in the second half of the night when the wind is strong, choosing to use more electricity during the nighttime valley of the power grid is equivalent to using more clean energy electricity, thus promoting the consumption of clean energy and indirectly helping the goal of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality.

The second is to participate in grid peak regulation at a specified time and act as a virtual power plant. At this point, the advantages of the power station are extremely prominent. It can be directly connected to the dispatching center of the power grid through the private network, accept power grid dispatching instructions, achieve minute-level or even second-level power response, and efficiently participate in frequency regulation.

The current power swap station is equipped with 13 batteries. According to NIO’s calculations, each power swap station has an energy storage capacity of 600-700 kWh at any time. When the user replaces the required battery, the other 10-11 batteries can be discharged to the grid for 5-10 minutes, and can accept the command of the grid to discharge to the grid or increase the charging power at any time, which hardly affects the normal battery replacement service of the user.

In the Hefei case mentioned above, at around 8 pm on August 15 this year, when the power dispatching control center of the Hefei Power Supply Company issued an order to the 15 NIO power swap stations in the city,
within 1 minute, Hefei Power Grid reduced the load by 1.4 MW.

The average power of a single station in the Hefei NIO power exchange network is reduced by about 100 kW, and the charging time of each battery is only increased by about 5 minutes. At the same time, Ms. Guo, a user of NIO in Hefei, used the power swap station of Binhu Smart Energy Service Station to exchange power for her car. It only took 3 minutes, and the battery exchange experience was not significantly different from usual.

The example of Hefei is not an isolated case.

Make virtual power plants all over the country, NIO is in action

It is the long-term vision of NIO Energy to enable electric vehicles to use clean energy to help achieve carbon peaking and carbon neutrality.

As the first car company in the country to organize users to participate in the demand-side response of the power grid on a large scale, since 2019, NIO has organized power swap stations and home charging piles in Shanghai to participate in the peak shaving and valley filling of the city’s power grid through the “Energy Cloud”. The area responding to the grid has expanded over the years.

Since 2020, NIO has organized swap stations, super-charging piles and home charging piles in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region to participate in peak shaving and valley filling of North China Electric Power. In 2021-2022, more than 4,000 participating users will consume more than 2.3 million kWh of clean energy and reduce equivalent carbon emissions by 1,179 tons.

In this hot summer of this year, in addition to the 13 swap stations in Hefei, there are 22 in Guangdong, 58 in Shanghai, 8 in Zhejiang and 7 in Nanjing. A total of 108 swap stations have participated in the grid peak shaving response in their respective cities, and helped reduce the peak load of the power grid and leave enough room for urban power supply.

In addition to helping power grid peak shaving, NIO’s power station can automatically “off-peak charging” every day. NIO Energy Cloud formulates a staggered charging strategy suitable for each power exchange station by predicting the power-on demand of users and combining with the peak-to-valley electricity prices in various regions. At present, among the more than 1,067 battery swap stations in the country, 575 battery swap stations have participated in staggered charging, accounting for nearly 60%. The proportion of electricity consumption in the valley has increased from 12% to 20%, and the peak electricity consumption has been transferred to 4.1 million kWh in the past 30 days.

In the future, NIO power station will also carry out grid response and off-peak charging exploration in more regions of the country, especially in western provinces such as Sichuan, Chongqing and Northwest where there are more clean energy sources. At the same time, the swap stations with the function of reverse discharge to the power grid will also be put into trial operation. NIO Energy will do its best to help the power grid achieve safer and more stable operation, consume more clean energy, and help the whole society to achieve carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals.