Centrica to trial local smart grid in Cornwall

Energy group Centrica has announced plans to build a local energy market in Cornwall, with smart technology provided to over 150 homes and businesses.

The three-year programme will test the use of flexible demand, generation and storage, and will reward local residents and businesses for being more flexible with their energy use.

Centrica’s Distributed Energy and Power business will give free smart technology upgrades and energy storage units to renewable generators, local businesses and other large energy users. Meanwhile, battery units, micro-combined heat and power (CHP), or a combination of the two, will be installed in up to 100 homes.

According to Centrica, participants in the trial will use the latest smart technologies to connect to a virtual marketplace that will allow them to sell their flexible energy capacity to both the grid and the wholesale energy market.

The aim is to study a distributed model where energy is generated and managed closer to the point of demand..

Commenting on the plans, Jorge Pikunic, managing director of Centrica Distributed Energy & Power, said: “Cornwall has been at the forefront of harnessing renewable generation, but that has brought challenges to the local grid. Our ambition is to explore how battery storage, flexible demand and generation can to reduce pressure on the UK’s electricity grid, avoid expensive network upgrades and support future decarbonisation.

“This is a unique opportunity for us to work together with local businesses and homes to unlock new approaches that can give consumers more control of their energy, both here in the UK and potentially around the world. I believe this is a clear example of how the energy landscape could look in future — a truly decentralised market where energy is smarter, greener and cheaper.”

The £19m trial is being funded by Centrica and the British Gas Energy for Tomorrow fund alongside a £13m grant from the European Regional Development Fund.

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