The humble hot water tank gets a 'smart' treatment to become a virtual power plant

The humble hot water tank gets a 'smart' treatment to become a virtual power plant

Heating hot water is the second most intensive use of energy in the home. As a result, Centrica, in a move to help decarbonise heating, is rolling out a new smart hot water tank offer for customers through British Gas.  The partnership, with Oxford University spin-out, Mixergy, will offer customers the opportunity to upgrade their hot water systems with a new intelligent hot water tank.

Hot water tanks consume as much energy as running a small car but have received little innovation to date. The Mixergy tank system combines sensory and IoT technologies to keep track of hot water levels in the tank, learning the usage habits of the household so water volumes are personalised to heat just what is needed at the right time. This can reduce heat losses water energy usage by up to 40 per cent a year, saving over 10 per cent on hot water bills each year worth up to £100 per annum.*  

Centrica has also secured approval from National Grid to include thousands of hot water tanks as part of its 2.5GW-strong virtual power plant, combining the units with the flexibility of industrial consumers and battery projects using its software platform FlexPondTM.

The partnership with Mixergy, funded by Centrica Innovations, follows the publication of National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios, which suggests that more than 23 million homes will need to install new low-carbon heating solutions by 2050.

Centrica Business Solutions is working with a variety of other global residential appliance manufacturers to explore opportunities to provide flexibility services to the electricity grid using the company’s demand response technology platform, FlexpondTM.

Notes

* This depends on heat source and usage profile - reducing heat losses from the hot water tank by to 40 per cent and heating at the correct time with respect to the both the house-holders usage and energy tariff and can save up to £100 per annum. * 

About Mixergy:

  • Mixergy is a spin out company from the University of Oxford’s Energy and Power Group and received funding from Centrica Innovations early in 2019.
  • The company provide intelligent solutions to heating water which are cost-effective, energy-efficient and convenient for customers.
  • British Gas has been selling Mixergy water tanks to customers in Oxford and Swindon since June 2019
  • The fleet of Mixergy tanks aims to offer a Demand Side Response (DSR) service to the National Grid, absorbing excess load from the grid and time shifting demand to help balance the grid and facilitate the uptake of renewable generation assets.

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