Next Pool: Small power stations generate big competition

The erratic generation of energy by wind and solar energy systems is a considerable challenge for the transformation of the German energy system. However, as part of a network, renewable energy sources can be a reliable source of power, as demonstrated by the “Next Pool” power station. This network of 2,500 individual power stations across Germany, Austria and Belgium produces electricity on demand and is competing heavily with the major power stations.

“Green electricity only flows when the wind blows or the sun shines!” The erratic generation of energy by wind and solar energy systems is often used as a counterargument by opponents of the German energy reform. The “Next Pool” virtual power station takes a sophisticated approach to the problem. It links more than 2,500 individual power stations together to form a supply system that has the capacity of a large-scale nuclear power station (1.5 gigawatts). Controllable power generation plants such as biogas and hydroelectric power stations produce more when the sun shines less and the wind doesn’t blow as hard. This allows the operator to use renewable energy to stabilise the electricity network and sell energy at the times when it is particularly valuable ...

Engine for progress:

  • largest virtual power station in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)
  • first supply of balancing energy from renewable energy sources (2012)
  • economical for operators of individual systems and power station operators
  • promotes market integration and the development of renewable energies
  • contributes to network stabilisation

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Photo: Next Kraftwerke GmbH

Schematic illustration of a virtual power station. Many individual power stations are connected to form a network. The network is constructed using modern communications technology.

Renewable energies stabilise the electricity network and have a 10 per cent market share

In 2012, Next Kraftwerke was one of the first companies to trade electricity from renewable energy sources on the “electricity balancing market”. This balancing energy stabilises the electricity networks in the event of shortages or excesses in the network. Rather than burdening the network, in this instance the ostensibly “erratic” renewable energies ensure the stability of the system. And not only that, the operator Next Kraftwerke now has a share of 10 per cent of the electricity balancing market, competing heavily with the conventional power stations.

Target: reliable electricity supply – 100 per cent renewable

Next Pool is one of the largest virtual power stations in Europe and is managed from Cologne with visionary farsightedness: “We founded Next Kraftwerke in 2011 with the aim of making a reliable supply of electricity from 100 per cent renewable energy sources possible,” said CEO Hendrik Sämisch. The virtual power station contributes to the expansion of renewable energy sources because it is a better means of integrating them in the electricity market. The system also dampens the need to expand the electricity network and thus meets a core challenge of the German energy reform head on.

Photo: Next Kraftwerke GmbH

“With the virtual power station, the individual operators are contributing their share to the grand idea of the transformation of the energy system and are thus also acclimatising themselves to a market environment.”

Jochen Schwill, founder and CEO of Next Kraftwerke (On the left of the picture)

“Our stated objective is to make a reliable supply of electricity from 100 per cent renewable energy sources possible.”

Hendrik Sämisch, founder and CEO of Next Kraftwerke (On the right in the picture)

Partners and sponsors

  • Next Kraftwerke GmbH