Bringing the future to you

Transforming energy and services through technology

Imagine a whole town powered by a single battery. Neighbourhoods freed from the grid, buying and selling energy with each other instead. Businesses creating their own energy. Households in complete control of the energy they’re using. Your heating and lighting controlled by the sound of your voice.

It’s a smarter, cleaner, more secure future – and we’re bringing it to you.

As alternative energy sources become the norm, and as Artificial Intelligence and blockchain technology transform the world around us, Centrica is revolutionising the way energy is generated, stored and used.

A whole town powered by a single battery?

A remote control uses two AA batteries; an alarm clock, four. Our new Energy Centre in Gateshead is a battery project that holds the equivalent of one million AA batteries - that’s enough power to meet the needs of 3,000 homes for one hour.

It’s independent from the grid and provides an alternative source of energy that operates at a local level. Energy can be stored or released, responding to any changes in demand in under a second. So peaks in local demand can be met – and the national electricity network can be kept in better balance.

Alan Barlow, UK&I Director for Centrica Distributed Energy and Power said: “The Gateshead Energy Centre is a ground-breaking scheme and an impressive demonstration of how distributed energy solutions can generate cost savings, strengthen resilience, by bringing together battery storage and other energy technologies.”

Find out more about our Gateshead project.

Gateshead

Using blockchain technology to create a local energy market in Cornwall

We’re also looking to transform the way whole regions manage their energy supply and improve their energy resilience.

In Cornwall, renewable energy generation – like wind farms and solar panels – has taken off. But because the grid is already over-loaded, adding these new forms of clean generation into the national grid – just to take them out again – isn’t always the best option.

So Centrica is working on a pioneering trial, looking at flexible demand, generation and storage of energy – for local business and residents.

We’re installing new technologies in homes and businesses and connecting them to a local market.

When more renewable energy is generated, consumers are encouraged to use or store it; and, when demand from other households in the area outstrips the amount being generated, businesses and residents will be able to make money by selling their spare energy back to the local market.

And this will all happen automatically, in real time – saving money without costing time.

We’re now working to make this approach even more effective by using blockchain technology - offering consumers greater control and creating a secure platform for them to buy and sell energy from each other, as well as opening the way for peer-to-peer trading on a mass scale.

Find out more about our local energy market project in Cornwall.

Transforming energy from a business cost to a business opportunity

We want to help our customers not just save money on energy, but to make money on it too.

Our programme to give businesses greater control over their energy means they can not only reduce the amount of energy that they use – they can also sell any surplus energy that they generate back to the grid.

What’s more, large businesses can also make money from reducing or increasing their energy consumption at times when the grid needs a bit of extra help – a process called Demand Side Response (DSR).

And in Texas, we’re even running trials looking at how we go beyond the traditional models of fixed price contracts.

Working with businesses across the globe, we’re creating the world’s first micro-hedging market, where businesses trade between themselves – revolutionising the way they buy, sell and think about energy.

Learn more about how we’re transforming the way businesses use energy.

Using heat from the world’s computers to keep your family warm

If you’ve ever walked past the servers in your office, or even just used a laptop for a few hours, you’ll know that computers generate heat. And activities like cloud computing, Bitcoin mining and Artificial Intelligence, that involve heaps of processing power, create vast amounts of heat.

In the past, businesses that use a lot of computers – like data centres – would use stacks of energy on cooling systems to try and deal with it. But what if there was a way to change that and use the heat generated?

Our Innovation Hub is looking to capture the heat from computers used at work and at home, and using that energy to warm up water for heating.
It’s smarter energy - turning a waste product into something useful, and could save businesses and households energy and money.

Voice technology to put you in control

Transforming the way energy is generated and stored is vital – but it needs to go hand in hand with changing the way it’s used.

We’re determined to give more power to our customers – making it as easy as possible for them to control when and where they use energy. That’s why we developed our Hive products, including a pioneering smart thermostat that lets you control the heating in your home, no matter who supplies your energy.

You can use Hive to automate your morning cup of coffee, linking it with sensors so that your kettle is switched on when you walk downstairs in the morning. Or, you can use Hive to switch on your heating on the way home – and turn your lights on if you’re coming back late.

And by linking it to Alexa or other voice-controlled assistants, you can even turn off your lights or turn on your heating by the sound of your voice.

This is technology that is changing people’s lives – and it is technology that will only become more important as the UK population ages, helping loved ones stay connected and living independently in their own homes for longer.

That’s why Centrica is focusing on developing and investing in innovative services and products – as part of the cleaner, smarter and more secure future that we’re bringing to you.

See more about how Hive products can transform your home.

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