A Gogoro GoStation with an Enel X installation (Photo from PR Newswire)

Taiwan Includes Virtual Power Plant Technology In Its Energy Mix Using Battery Swapping Stations

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In what is the now the first largest commercial deployment of a Virtual Power Plant in the world, energy expert Enel X and 1,300 Gogoro battery-swapping GoStations will be helping the energy-hungry Taiwan power grid by supplying power during times when the demand is high and an imbalance is detected.

This project, a confirmation of an earlier tie-up and prototyping between the two companies, is designed to support the country’s public power utility, Taiwan Power Company (TPC). The announcement was made during a TPC hosted press conference in Taipei, Taiwan recently.

In 2021, both companies studied the viability of drawing power from Gogoro’s battery-swapping network excess capacity. From a modest 100 stations in 2015 when Gogoro was launched, the network has grown to 2,215 with the ability to store more than 2 gigawatts of power. By 2021, it had one GoStation per 1.3 kilometers and nearly 500,000 e-scooters in operation.

“It is the first time this technology has been deployed this way in the world, and it creates a new Gogoro revenue stream beyond mobility,” Horace Luke, founder, and CEO of Gogoro said. “By joining Enel X’s digitalized VPP platform, we blend our ecosystems of innovative technologies together to support public utilities incorporating new renewable energy sources.”

How Enel X’s VPP system works utilizing Gogoro’s GoStations. (Illustration from Enel X)

Gogoro is an acknowledged leader in sustainable urban transportation and battery swapping refueling. The company’s development began as a response to the huge ICE-powered scooter population, which at one point included polluting 2-stroke engines. Even with less polluting 4-stroke powerplants, Taiwan’s air quality is 1.5 times above the recommended limit given by the WHO 24 hours air quality guidelines value.

There are now 14 million scooters in Taiwan, and only about 500,000 are electric scooters. Of this number, 90% are Gogoro e-scooters. However, these scooter owners are served by over 1.1 million batteries for swapping, a ratio of 2:1, which keeps e-scooters going the distance.

By using Enel X’s technology to utilize the excess or unneeded capacity in the GoStation network, power can be added to the grid without compromising the charging requirements of Gogoro’s customers. Called dynamic pausing, the method of switching power from user to grid won’t leave Gogoro scooter owners without power. There are some 2,200 GoStations in Taiwan and a little more than half will be used for the VPP project. This leaves another 1,000 stations for use by Gogoro subscribers.

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Moreover, dynamic pausing does not completely drain batteries in stations, Enel X’s technology monitors high use stations and excludes these from the station-to-grid transfer. In 2022, Gogoro and Enel X’s VPP demonstrated that the Gogoro Network could safely pause charging if there was a grid imbalance or provide energy back to the grid as demand required. Once the demand subsided, Enel X’s VPP sent a signal to the Gogoro Network to safely restore grid consumption.

By the middle of 2023, another 1,200 battery swapping stations are expected to be set up. When this happens, there will be more GoStations than gas stations in Taiwan.

“We have always believed that time-shifting energy was key to enabling the sustainable transformation of energy and transportation, and Gogoro continues to be a key part of these advancements. Together, the Gogoro community is contributing to Taiwan’s net-zero targets by helping to integrate more variable power generation resources onto the grid. Today, when the energy grid begins to max out, we can dynamically pause our energy usage or provide energy back to the grid while continuing to operate our battery swapping service independently as needed,” Luke shared.

The Enel X and Gogoro VPP project demonstrated that the existing battery network is an ideal resource to support Taiwan’s energy transition plan, finalized in March 2022. The Taiwan energy commission officially published “Taiwan’s Pathway to Net-Zero Emissions in 2050,” providing the action pathway to achieve its carbon reduction goals. The blueprint created by the plan “aims to promote technology R&D and innovation in key areas, guide the green transition of industry, and drive a new wave of economic growth.”

The VPP project just upgraded the plan quickly.

“The commercial expansion of the Gogoro and Enel X pilot program to more than 1,000 battery swapping locations highlights a significant step in our ancillary service to increase energy use efficiency. It is also an essential element in the development of large uptakes of renewable energy in the global electricity industry and a positive demonstration of how businesses like Gogoro can proactively participate in Taiwan’s energy market at scale,” Yao-Ting Wang, president of Taiwan Power Company (TPC) said in relation to his country’s net zero ambitions.

TPC has forecast that the future business opportunity in the electricity-sharing economy in Taiwan is predicted to be tens of billions of New Taiwan Dollars.

“Enel X’s VPP aggregates Gogoro’s battery swapping energy load to contribute to TPC’s Energy Trading Platform for ancillary service. Our Energy Trading Platform allows organizations like Gogoro to be active contributors of energy in Taiwan and we encourage more businesses to participate through professional aggregators like Enel X, to work together towards Taiwan’s renewable energy future,” Wang added.

Enel X Taiwan has the largest VPP in Taiwan’s energy market today, managing the largest volume of distributed energy resources in TPC’s Energy Trading Platform.

“Our work with Gogoro showcases the vital role that VPPs will play in the transition to renewable energy. As new distributed resources are built to electrify and decarbonize our energy use, VPPs will unlock greater sustainability impacts and improved financial returns by connecting these assets to the broader energy system. Our platform does this by aggregating thousands of these ‘new energy’ assets into a resource that can help balance the intermittency of large-scale renewable power stations. We believe our work with Gogoro is a world-leading demonstration of what VPPs can do, and we are honored and excited to continue growing our collaboration with them,” Jeff Renaud, Head of Enel X Asia and Oceania said.

Gogoro publicly announced that it is committed to working with public utilities like TPC and even those in other countries where its battery swapping stations are located, alongside industry leaders like Enel X, to utilize the full potential of innovative technologies like time-shifted power to support the transition to renewable power anywhere in the world.

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Raymond Tribdino

Raymond Gregory Tribdino is the motoring & information technology editor of Malaya Business Insight (www.malaya.com.ph) in the Philippines. He has been covering automotive, transport, and IT since 1992. His passion for electric vehicles started with the failed electrification of a scooter in 1994. He wrote for EVWorld.com, one of the pioneer electric vehicle websites, in 1997. He was a college professor for 8 years at the Philippine Women’s University. He is also now a podcaster co-hosting for the Philippines' top-rated YouTube tech site “TechSabado” and the baby-boomer popular “Today is Tuesday.” He is a husband and father of five, a weekend mechanic and considers himself a handyman, an amateur ecologist, and environmentalist. He is back to trying to electrify motorcycles starting with a plug-in trail motorcycle.

Raymond Tribdino has 108 posts and counting. See all posts by Raymond Tribdino