The Onsemble Way: Turning Hot Water Heaters into Virtual Power Plants 

Onsemble, Startup, Virtual Power Plant, Northern California, Seed Funding, Energy Integration, Hot Water Heaters, Texas Electric Grid, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), Public Utility Commission of Texas, Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), Solar Panels, Batteries, Electric Vehicles, Grid Services, Clean Energy, Natural Gas, Electrification

On Wednesday, September 6, a startup named Onsemble is aiming to turn residential hot water heaters into virtual power plants in three Northern California counties in the upcoming months. 

Rick Klau, co-founder of Onsemble raised $3 million in seed funding trying to change the mindset of how to use this energy and integrate it as a main resource in houses, at the same time earning money when hot water is being provided.  

Two virtual power plants are now qualified and able to provide power to the Texas electric grid, operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Public Utility Commission of Texas said in a news release Wednesday. 

How does a virtual power plant work? 

A virtual power plant as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy, is “a group of distributed energy resources that can be aggregated and controlled to provide grid services”. Let’s simplify it, imagine a group of people living in a neighborhood and sharing a generator. Each person has their own solar panel and battery, but they all connect their devices to the generator to get the power they need. That’s how a virtual power plant (VPP) works. 

The distributed energy resources (DERs) are solar panels, batteries, and electric vehicles connected to a grid which is the generator. The more the grid becomes interconnected, the more the VPPs become important. 

“As generation and distribution technology continues to improve, we expect to see more Texans taking advantage of these small energy resources in the future,” said ERCOT President and CEO Pablo Vegas, the grid operator for the state of Texas. “This pilot project is an opportunity for us, the electric industry, and participants to learn how to harness these resources to support reliability in the ERCOT market.” 

For the progression of future clean energy, the virtual power plant will play a significant role in providing plenty of benefits that will enhance the notion of electrifying households by using natural gas without connecting to gas-powered devices. 

Inside Telecom provides you with an extensive list of content covering all aspects of the tech industry. Keep an eye on our Tech sections to stay informed and up-to-date with our daily articles.