Residential installs begin at Cornwall's Local Energy Market

The pioneering £19m trial reaches a significant milestone this month, as the first installations of battery and solar technology into 100 homes around the county begin to take place

Centrica’s flagship Cornwall Local Energy Market (LEM) reaches a significant milestone this month, as the first installations of battery and solar technology into 100 homes around the county begin to take place.

The physical roll out of equipment to households is one of the most significant moments yet for the pioneering £19m trial, which seeks to test a virtual marketplace that will allow participants to trade energy and flexibility to the grid and wholesale energy market.

Participating households will benefit from free, cutting edge technologies that will allow them to both generate and store electricity. The technology will be provided by German firm sonnen, the world’s leading supplier of smart energy storage.

The solar PV and sonnenBatterie combination has been designed to help power participants’ homes. Any power generated during the day and not used will then either charge the battery or be fed back into the grid.

The batteries will be controlled remotely, maximising their productivity – so that power stored in residential batteries can be supplied to the local Distribution Network Operator (Western Power Distribution) and other participants when it is needed, increasing supply and reducing demand during peak times.

The LEM marketplace will work on the basis of price signals from the market. At times where there is low electricity demand and excess generation from local wind and solar, prices are low and it is more cost effective to store energy in the battery. If electricity demand is greater than the generation, prices increase and it becomes more attractive to trade the stored energy with the grid and wholesale market.

Exeter-based Sungift Energy will be carrying out the installations, and the residents will join some of Cornwall’s most recognisable businesses such as Carbis Bay Hotel and Goonhilly Earth Station as participants in the scheme.

The LEM is looking to recruit a variety of participants with a range of power requirements to maximise the network balancing effect, and remains open to businesses and energy market participants in the South West. Interested parties should contact to find out more.

Donna Cooper, Centrica’s Residential Energy Project Manager for the Cornwall Local Energy Market, said: “Everyone in the project team was overwhelmed with the interest that we received from people across Cornwall and are delighted that they have embraced what we are trying to do here.

“We are excited to begin installations over the coming weeks, bringing the benefits of next generation energy technology to households across the county. The Local Energy Market is a milestone project not just for Centrica but for the industry as a whole, and this is a significant sign of progress. We expect this to reduce householders’ electricity bills, whilst also supporting greater uptake of renewables on the local grid.”

Martin Allman, sonnen Country Director UK & Ireland, said: “The Cornwall LEM is an innovative and exciting project which will test and prove new business models for the growing UK energy storage market. We are delighted to have been chosen by Centrica as the residential PV and energy storage provider, and look forward to bringing our experience from Germany and other international markets to Cornwall.

“Through the LEM we want to show that a decentralized and digital energy system is already possible using today’s technology and that we don’t have to wait 10 years.

“The energy landscape is seeing huge changes which will continue much faster than many people think. We are thrilled to be able to demonstrate the role that smart batteries in homes can play in the transition towards a secure, affordable and low carbon energy system.”


About the Cornwall Local Energy Market trial

  • The Local Energy Market is being delivered by Centrica’s Distributed Energy & Power business ‘Centrica Business Solutions’, established to deliver integrated energy solutions that help businesses and other large energy users to improve performance and cost management, strengthen resilience, and create opportunities for growth.
  • The Cornwall Local Energy Market trial was launched in December 2016 and is working closely with partners Western Power Distribution, Imperial College, the University of Exeter and National Grid.
  • 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 (ERDF)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