Project to explore impact of peer-to-peer energy trading on customer bills.
Centrica has joined forces with machine learning start-up Verv on the next phase of a community energy trial that aims to explore how peer-to-peer trading on the blockchain could reduce customer bills.
Experts from the company’s supply business, British Gas, are supporting a live customer trial at a social housing community in Hackney, London where solar panels have been installed on 13 blocks of flats to supply communal areas. Powered by Verv’s artificial intelligence technology and blockchain, the team will be looking at how customers would be billed if owners of the solar panels could sell their excess energy to their neighbours. The trial has recently been officially accepted onto the Ofgem sandbox which offers regulatory flexibility in order to explore new and disruptive technologies.
Verv rolled out its blockchain-based energy trading platform to the London community earlier this year and executed the UK’s first physical peer-to-peer trade of energy on the blockchain in April. The next phase of the trial will focus on testing different billing methods to ensure that customers receive clear and fair bills when taking part in a network where energy is coming from multiple sources. In this case, it will analyse how much energy is being consumed through British Gas and how much is coming from the solar panels.
Peter Davies, CEO and Founder of Verv said: “Bill consolidation is a significant component of peer-to-peer energy trading; we need to ensure that consumers get a clear bill which breaks down where their energy has come from and charges them accordingly. I’m looking forward to this phase as we explore more in-depth logistics of real-world implementation and edge closer and closer to it. We’re thrilled to have British Gas on board to help discover how we can offer customers seamless energy consumption options that include cheaper, locally sourced green energy.”
Centrica has previously invested £1.9m into Verv through its social impact investment fund, Ignite, which now forms part of Centrica Innovations. Established in 2017 to identify and accelerate new technology for homes and businesses, Centrica Innovations plans to invest £100 million into projects that will transform the way we live, work and move.
Peter Simon, Customer Propositions and Product Director at British Gas, said: “The emergence of new technology such as blockchain has the potential to be a game-changer for businesses and consumers, in this case giving customers the opportunity to benefit from cheap, renewable energy.
“As a long-standing investor in Verv, we’re excited to be taking the relationship on a step further as we look to explore new and better ways to deliver energy to our customers.”