Centrica has begun a GBP19m trial to create a virtual energy market in Cornwall allowing local businesses to sell their flexible energy capacity to the grid.Local businesses will also be able to sell their flexible energy capacity to the wholesale energy market. The trial will span three years and has been developed in response to a global shift toward a more distributed energy model.
According to a release, the pilot will test the use of flexible demand, generation and storage. The project is envisioned to reward Cornwall’s local community for being more flexible with their energy.
Managing director of Centrica Distributed Energy and Power Jorge Pikunic said: “Cornwall has been at the forefront of harnessing renewable generation, but that has brought challenges to the local grid. Our ambition is to explore how battery storage, flexible demand and generation can to reduce pressure on the UK’s electricity grid, avoid expensive network upgrades and support future decarbonisation.
“This is a unique opportunity for us to work together with local businesses and homes to unlock new approaches that can give consumers more control of their energy, both here in the UK and potentially around the world. I believe this is a clear example of how the energy landscape could look in future - a truly decentralised market where energy is smarter, greener and cheaper.”
Centrica will install new technology into more than 150 businesses and homes across the county, as the energy company looks to tap into a global transition from centralised energy generation to a distributed model, where energy is generated and managed closer to the point of demand.
Smart distributed energy resources
The trial will see Centrica partner with renewable generators, local businesses and other large energy users to provide free smart technology upgrades as well as installing new energy storage units to establish new revenue streams. Additionally, the energy company will be rolling out battery units and micro-scale combined heat and power (CHP) systems across 100 homes.
Centrica and British Gas Energy for Tomorrow will be providing some of the funding for the project, alongside a £13m grant from the European Regional Development Fund. The project will be delivered by Centrica along with partners Western Power Distribution, National Grid and Exeter University.