Centrica’s Local Energy Market trial completes battery installation in 100 Cornish homes

Fleet of batteries to provide grid flexibility as the UK's largest domestic Virtual Power Plant

Centrica’s Cornwall Local Energy Market (LEM) is celebrating a major milestone, as the pioneering trial completes the installation of cutting-edge renewable technologies across its residential programme. 

Delivered by Centrica’s Distributed Energy and Power business, Centrica Business Solutions, the £19m Local Energy Market trial has been developed to support the stability of Cornwall’s grid, which is increasingly constrained due to the high penetration of renewables in the county.

One hundred homes across the county have had smart batteries and monitoring equipment installed, as well as solar PV where this was not already in place (60 homes). Powered by the solar panels, the energy in these batteries will now be aggregated and controlled remotely to provide a single block of power and flexibility  to the local grid, making it the largest working example of a domestic Virtual Power Plant in the UK. 

Working with partners from the University of Exeter, Imperial College, Western Power Distribution and National Grid, Centrica has developed an online virtual marketplace that will allow the owners of flexible demand and generation capacity to sell their flexibility. 

Mark Futyan, Distributed Power Systems Director for Centrica, said: “This is the first project in the world to adopt a market-based approach to local grid services, providing Western Power Distribution and National Grid with a route to buy flexibility at the local level, while managing any conflicts between local and national needs. The new marketplace can play a vital role in supporting decarbonisation, by bringing forward much needed flexibility to balance out intermittent renewable generation. 

“With these 100 homes on board, we can now demonstrate the residential Virtual Power Plant concept and start to test the true potential of the local energy marketplace.”

The households have been given free storage and low carbon generation technologies that will allow them to take control of their energy usage and reduce their bills.  Any energy that is not used in the home will be made available to the local Distribution Network Operator and National Grid, maximising the value of the assets, increasing supply, and reducing demand during peak times. 

Centrica has already worked with over 125 businesses in Cornwall including Carbis Bay Hotel, The Olde House and Goonhilly Earth Station, which have had flexible, low carbon energy technologies and monitoring equipment installed. 


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 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 https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding
  • Last year, Centrica Business Solutions announced the establishment of a 32MW ‘virtual power plant’ comprising one of Europe’s largest battery storage facilities and a portfolio of industrial assets. Operational since April 2018, the 18MW battery storage project with Tesla has been pooled with flexible load and generation from a series of industrial customers to deliver flexibility services to the European transmission grid. 
  • In February, Centrica announced plans to integrate solar, battery and heat pump technology into its customer offering, estimating that the co-location of domestic battery storage alongside today’s solar installations alone could enable over 4.5GW of flexible power capacity.