The Government and National Grid have recognised the key role flexible, smart energy will play in supporting a secure, affordable and lower carbon system for the UK. The National Infrastructure Commission has also suggested that smart power in the form of demand management, battery storage and other technologies could save the UK £8bn in meeting our decarbonisation targets and securing energy supplies. We believe this trial is a major step forward in realising that ambition.
Introducing the Cornwall Local Energy Market
Building a new energy future
Introducing the Cornwall Local Energy Market:
£19m programme to explore flexible, smart energy solutions for the UK.
Centrica’s Distributed Energy & Power business is working on a pioneering trial in Cornwall that will test the use of flexible demand, generation and storage across both the domestic and business sectors.
The Cornwall Local Energy Market will see the development of a virtual marketplace that will provide participants with a platform to buy and sell energy and flexibility both to the grid and the wholesale energy market. We will also be installing new generation and storage technology into over 100 properties, which will allow us to explore how individuals and businesses interact with the technology.
The three year trial is being delivered in partnership with the local distribution network operator Western Power Distribution, alongside National Grid and Exeter University. It is being funded by Centrica and the British Gas Energy for Tomorrow Fund alongside a £13m grant from the European Regional Development Fund.
We believe the trial will provide major findings that can inform the Government, National Grid and regulators about how the UK can best develop new and effective markets for flexible energy.
This is a truly unique opportunity for us to work together with local businesses and homes and explore new approaches that help us all take control of how we use, generate and store energy in Cornwall and beyond.- Jorge Pikunic, Managing Director of Centrica Distributed Energy & Power
- Free supply and fit of micro-Combined Heat & Power (CHP) units and/or battery storage for around 100 homes
- Flexible energy audits and free supply and fit of energy asset/technology upgrades for around 60 businesses
- New Centrica office to be established in Cornwall as a base for a 23-strong team of project managers, technical experts and software developers.
As a county, Cornwall has made extraordinary strides in terms of their take up of renewable generation but that has brought challenges in terms of network capacity. This means that the network has a queue of new renewable generation projects with high associated grid connection costs.
Our ambition is to test how energy storage, flexible demand and generation can be combined with smart technologies to support the local electricity distribution network and potentially reduce the cost of energy for local homes and businesses. If successful, we believe that the local energy market approach could be transferred to other national and international regions facing similar challenges.
Western Power Distribution is developing the software that will allow them to identify constrained areas of the network and buy flexible energy demand or generation from the Local Energy Market platform. At the end of the trial, it is our intention that they and other buyers will be able to purchase energy and flexibility direct from the homes and businesses that we are working with or via an aggregator. We will also be giving local renewable generators such as solar and wind farms the opportunity to sell energy via this platform.
The University of Exeter will have a full time research fellow working on the project who will be working with participants to understand the impacts of the local energy market for users and the wider network.
National Grid are helping us to ensure coordination between existing flexibility arrangements and the Local Energy Market.
The trial will test a variety of different technologies in both domestic and commercial environments so we can learn how the platform will work in a wide range of circumstances. We would anticipate that homeowners would typically be looking for us to automate the process as much as possible, while a business might need or want more control.
For example, we might offer a homeowner a new micro-CHP unit that allows them to generate their own energy. We could then automate the process so the unit fires up at peak times of demand on the network and therefore relives the pressure on the grid. Providing this service, could secure the householder a payment, resulting in lower fuel bills.
On the other hand, a business owner might combine their existing on-site generation such as a back-up generator with a new energy storage unit and choose to make the decision themselves about whether to export any excess energy to the grid and make some money, or store it for use on-site at a later time.
We hope to be in a position to officially launch the Local Energy Market early in 2017 and will be promoting the programme locally to give people the chance to express an interest.
We believe distributed energy has a vital role to play in the energy mix and plan to invest £700 million into the business between now and 2020. To find out more, go to www.centrica.com/takecontrol