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The next generation of power plants will be virtual

Your next home or electric vehicle could be part of a virtual power plant

Increasing numbers of homes outfitted with solar panels and batteries have the potential to help power entire regions with renewable energy. Working together, homes with solar setups are turning neighborhoods into virtual power plants that can feed power back to the grid and prevent blackouts.

These interconnected solar power systems are popping up across the globe — from apartment complexes in California and Utah, to public housing in South Australia. In the future, virtual power plants might even be made up of fleets of electric vehicles. It’s the next generation of solar power technology.

Virtual power plants are gaining traction because they solve some big problems with aging electricity grids. They can replace dirty power plants running on fossil fuels. They can also make grids more resilient to climate change-fueled disasters like hurricanes and wildfires. Unlike traditional power plants and even large solar farms, virtual power plants distribute energy generation over a wider area — so it isn’t as vulnerable to a localized calamity.

We broke down how a virtual power plant works and what makes it a powerful tool in efforts to prevent climate catastrophe and keep the lights on when disaster does strike. Check out the video above to learn more.