Centrica signs up first business in Cornwall Local Energy Market trial

New energy storage machines to support The Olde House solar farm

Centrica’s Local Energy Market (LEM) trial in Cornwall has signed up its first official participant at The Olde House holiday cottage site near Wadebridge. The working farm and holiday retreat will use energy storage machines supplied by redT energy, to better manage the energy it uses from its own solar generation and the grid. 

The £19m trial will test the role of flexible power generation and storage in up to 150 homes and businesses across the county with the aim of reducing pressure on the local grid while rewarding participants for being more flexible with their energy.

Centrica’s Programme Director Matt Hastings said: “We’re thrilled to be working with The Olde House and redT energy as the first participants in the trial. The Olde House team have already achieved so much in terms of developing their solar generation so it’s great to be helping them to take that next step to even greater independence through the installation of these new machines.”

The 1MWh energy storage machines will be connected to The Olde House’s 250 kilowatt solar array, which was installed in 2011 to provide power to the site. The solar panels also power an onsite electric vehicle charging station.

 Shaun Hawkey from The Olde House said: “We generate large amounts of electricity throughout the day but unfortunately cannot utilise it all.  With the installation of these energy storage machines, we will be able to store the energy until times when we have a higher demand, for example at the end of the day and into early evening when our guests return from their days out.”

Scott McGregor, CEO of redT energy said: “We are very proud to be the first energy storage technology to be part of the Local Energy Market. The Olde House is a perfect example of how UK businesses can now utilise more of their renewable generation and make money supporting the electricity grid.  Centrica are at the cutting edge of the UK energy market and with initiatives such as the LEM, we are pleased to be working with them to secure the UK’s energy future by creating reliable, affordable, low carbon energy for business owners.”

The Local Energy Market team has been working to recruit homes and businesses to take part in the project since its launch in December last year and has already carried out energy audits at 56 business sites. Applications from businesses looking to access a £6m funding pot to go towards low carbon technologies such as combined heat and power units, solar photovoltaics, wind, smart technology upgrades and new energy storage units are still invited.


About Centrica and the Cornwall Local Energy Market trial

  • Centrica plc is an international energy and services company. Our purpose is to provide energy and services to satisfy the changing needs of our customers.

  • The Cornwall Local Energy Market trial was launched in December 2016 and is working closely with partners Western Power Distribution, the University of Exeter and National Grid.

  • The LEM has been established to work with the following key groups:

    • Businesses – providing grants for energy monitoring, energy audits and smart technology upgrades, with the aim of unlocking money-making potential and reducing energy costs for approximately 60 businesses.

    • Renewable generators – funding to be made available to enable projects that might not otherwise happen, or release currently curtailed renewable energy generation.

    • Householders – free generation and storage units to be installed in up to 100 homes, combined with the very latest in smart technologies to potentially help them to drive down household bills.

  • The trial is being funded by Centrica and the British Gas Energy for Tomorrow fund alongside a grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

  • The England ERDF is providing £13m of funding as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

    • The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

    • Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

About energy storage

  • The UK is undergoing a major shift away from large power stations to smaller providers, and energy storage is likely to be critical as the grid will need to adapt to this distributed model.

  • Storage will provide flexibility when it comes to the timing of energy use and generation.It will give the local network operator an extra tool to stabilise the local network, accessed via our energy market.

  • Energy storage units will be placed on industrial sites, businesses, and in homes, and we are even exploring the possibility of putting them near substations where the local network is particularly constrained.