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Energy

Poland’s first virtual power plant is about to be launched - a recipe for savings and blackouts Grzegorz Nowaczewski, CEO of the Virtual Power Plant talks to “Polish Market” How did you come up with the idea of a virtual power plant? From the beginning of my career, I have been fascinated by innovative projects. When I set up my first company in 1992, the word “innovation” was not yet popular. Before I went for the idea of a virtual power plant, I had dealt with safe wireless communication, remote control, industrial automation and multimedia technologies. A few years ago, I decided to focus on the energy sector, seeking business challenges that would offer satisfaction from creating new digital products or services. The digitalisation of the economy sharpened competition between suppliers in various sectors. Yet, I found it strange and I still cannot really accept that energy customers are discriminated compared to traditional, strong energy companies. That is how the idea was born of implementing Poland’s first concept of a virtual power plant producing negawatts. This led me straight to the establishment of the Virtual Power Plant, a modern start-up, employing experienced professionals, which is designing smart energy management systems in facilities such as swimming pools, sports halls, office buildings, shopping malls. It is important for me, besides making money, to prevent threats such as blackouts and help save the planet. The idea for virtual power plant is highly innovative, therefore we have managed to gather major partners for this initiative, “such as GIZA Polish Ventures, Startup Hub Poland and DSR forerunner-Michael Zammit. Additionally, we are already beneficiaries of the National Research and Development Centre’s (NCBiR) Alfa Bridge programme. pm

The Virtual Power Plant offers a unique service. What does this uniqueness consist in? We are working on specific technologies, which will increase the country’s energy security based on the DSR (Demand Side Response) programme. The VPPlant is developing smart tools adjusting the consumption of electricity and heat in buildings to the variable demand, while maintaining comfort for users. We are optimising the energy consumption in buildings, in particular of the HVAC devices (heating, ventilation, air conditioning). We can steer the energy consumption from peak hours when deficiencies are likely to occur in the national power system to off-peak hours pm

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when energy rates are the lowest. We treat customers as partners, helping them reduce energy costs by up to 25%. In the future, our partners will actually be able to earn revenue from being part the DSR scheme, since they will be rewarded for reducing their energy needs during daily demand peaks. What costs does the owner have to incur to be able to use your service? The VPPlant’s business model provides for the development and installation of the technology at our expense. Then, we share savings obtained with the administrator of the building. A typical win-win scenario. The technology offered by the VPPlant is implemented in buildings of large-scale facilities with forced ventilation. One example of the implementation of our technology is Azoty Arena in Szczecin, a multifunctional sports and entertainment facility commissioned in August 2014. pm

You are now working on an innovation that will enhance the safety of people using swimming pools. Solutions used in other large-scale buildings are not enough to improve the energy efficiency of swimming pools. It is sufficient to ventilate shops and offices to the point to maintain the comfort of those inside them in terms of temperature, humidity, CO2 concentration. Many publications on energy efficiency in pm

swimming pools focus on ensuring the proper air circulation, temperature and humidity. However, before you end up optimising power consumption in swimming pools, you should start with checking how the purity of water and air is maintained. Sodium hypochlorite, a preparation commonly used for disinfection of swimming pool water, enters into chemical reactions with the organic impurities and forms toxic chlorinated methanes, which are called trihalomethanes (THMs). I took interest in the problem of THMs when studying publications devoted to energy optimization in sports facilities. THMs are dangerous to humans, yet traditional methods for detection of trihalomethanes are expensive and carried out on an irregular basis, even though it seems logical to perform such measurements regularly for safety reasons at the swimming pools. We have taken up the challenge of creating an innovative product, but I cannot reveal the details yet. Our goal is to develop and implement a technology for optimising the energy consumption in swimming pools, combined with the measurement of THM levels in water and air as often as it is economically reasonable, and removal of these compounds from water and from the swimming pool premises. We hope to get support from the National Research and Development Centre (NCBiR) under the Fast Track programme. •

Virtual Power Plant in Polish Market magazine  
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