Battery and solar technology to deliver over 4.5GW of flexible capacity.
Centrica is to expand its smart home activity in a move that will unlock the power of millions of customers’ homes, driving down electricity bills through the development of new propositions that will also support the flexibility of the grid.
The company is working to integrate solar, battery and heat pump technology into its customer offer and has estimated that the co-location of domestic battery storage alongside today’s solar installations alone could enable over 4.5GW of flexible power capacity, one and a half times more than a new nuclear plant.
Centrica Innovations has also made investments into two leading start-ups as part of an effort to drive forward new technologies and solutions for homes around the world.
The first investment is into one of Europe’s leading home energy management solutions providers, GreenCom Networks. Established in 2011, GreenCom Networks has developed an energy Internet of Things (IoT) platform that allows customers to save money by reducing their energy consumption, or even make money by making any surplus power in the home available to the grid at periods of high demand.
The second investment is a spin-out company from the University of Oxford’s Energy and Power Group, Mixergy, which has received funding to support the growth of its smart hot water tank technology. Mixergy’s intelligent hot water system combines sensory and IoT technology to keep track of hot water levels, learning the usage habits of the household so it only heats just enough to meet their needs.
Sam Salisbury, Director of Centrica Innovations Labs, said: “These investments are an important step forward to a time when IoT-enabled technology in the home will operate as a single unit to ensure that energy is used in the most effective way.
“Our mission is to make people’s lives easier, by providing seamless, time-saving services that are easy to use, have a positive environmental impact, and help save them money. Just as we have done for our business customers, home energy management takes this a step further by giving these customers access to new products that will enable them to generate and store their own energy as part of the ultimate ‘Intelligent Home’.
“Central to this will be an offer to customers that will deliver a greater variety of choice depending on whether their priority is warmth, price or the environment.”
Christian Feisst, CEO of GreenCom Networks, said: “We are delighted to have Centrica on board as an investor. Not only does Centrica have a strong customer base in Great Britain and North America, they also have a proven track record of building up customer-centric service businesses. We are looking forward to jointly bring those innovative services to the market.”
The principle behind home energy management is a micro-system of energy assets that brings together energy insight and efficiency together with the latest energy solutions and optimisation techniques. The industry is expected to be worth £2bn/year in Europe and North America by 2025.