London’s first ‘virtual power plant’ is set to be established, using electricity generated by household solar panels and battery storage.
The project will be the first time homeowners are paid to support the distribution network.
The agreement between distribution network operator UK Power Networks (UKPN) and energy storage specialist Powervault follows a successful trial of the technology earlier this year, when 45 Powervault systems were installed to help reduce household evening demand by 60%.
Powervault will now install batteries in 40 homes already fitted with solar panels in the London borough of Barnet to aggregate 320kWh of energy storage capacity and deliver localised flexibility.
Each Powervault system will charge from either solar or off-peak electricity from the grid. This charge can be optimised remotely to ensure a full charge for the weekday evening peak demand.
On days when energy demand is particularly high, UKPN can instruct the Powervault batteries to discharge in unison to relieve pressure on the network — creating a ‘virtual power station’ that helps to balance the grid between peaks and troughs in electricity demand. Residents will receive utilisation payments when their batteries discharge.
UKPN aims to have the system up and running this winter.
“Projects like this are just the start as we move towards a decarbonised, decentralised and digitised network that will offer significant benefits to our customers,” said Barry Hatton, director of asset management at UKPN. “It will help to keep down electricity distribution costs by providing a viable alternative to the traditional approach of simply adding more cables and substations to increase capacity.”