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Eneco acquires minority stake in virtual power plant specialist Next Kraftwerke

European energy major Eneco has acquired a minority stake in Germany’s Next Kraftwerke, which operates one of Europe’s largest virtual power plants.

While the precise figure of the investment was undisclosed, Eneco said it would allow for “further strategic expansion” of Next Kraftwerke and contribute to Eneco’s vision of furthering decentralised generation.

Next Kraftwerke has eight years’ experience in aggregating renewable energy assets and claims to be one of the largest independent digital aggregators of renewables in Europe with more than 2.8GW of assets under its management.

The company combines this capacity to actively trade electricity, optimise its production and offer demand response solutions to the market, connecting its managed capacity to a virtual power plant.

Joeri Kamp, managing director for smart energy at Eneco, said that Next Kraftwerke’s experience in this field would be of “great value”.

“Eneco Group aims to play a leading role in the progress toward decentralized and sustainable energy production and consumption. Digitization and technologies such as Virtual Power Plants will help make this possible.

“Furthermore, we will focus on how this partnership can further accelerate Next Kraftwerke’s international expansion and development of valuable services for its customers,” Kamp said.

Virtual power plants have come to the fore over the last year as a potential means of introducing greater quantities of renewables and other decentralised generation onto the grid without the need for wholesale changes to infrastructure.

Centrica has been working to establish a trial of its own virtual power plant in Cornwall since last December, while Good Energy and Open Utility have collaborated on a similar peer-to-peer energy trading network, dubbed Selectricity, which was formally launched in November.

Hendrick Sämisch, co-chief executive officer at Next Kraftwerke, said the rise of renewables across Europe had helped the company achieve significant growth, and hinted that the company could look to use the new investment to bolt on further acquisitions in the field.

“With this investment, we are looking toward further growth (both organic and acquired) into new European markets, while maintaining a strong relationship with our existing partners and customers. We believe Eneco Group is the right partner for this, since we have a shared vision on the energy transition and its opportunities,” he said.