Centrica has teamed up with Oxford University spin-out Mixergy to offer British Gas customers the opportunity to upgrade their hot water system with a new intelligent hot water tank.
The Mixergy tank system combines sensory and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to monitor hot water levels in the tank, learning the usage habits of the household so that water volumes are personalised to heat just what is needed at the right time.
Depending on the heat source and usage, this can reduce heat losses from the hot water tank by as much as 40% and save households up to £100 per year.
Centrica has also secured approval from National Grid to use thousands of the 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 demand response software platform FlexPond.
The aim is to absorb excess load from the grid and time-shift demand to help balance the grid and facilitate the uptake of renewable generation assets.
“We use our proprietary technology to unlock the power of Mixergy’s tanks in order to provide firm frequency response to the electricity grid,” said Charles Cameron, Centrica’s group director of technology and engineering and chairman of Centrica Innovations. “The first batch of 100 hot water tanks which are now in homes in the UK will, at times of stress, be capable of capturing energy at low market prices on sunny or windy days when there is an abundance of renewables on the network, all whilst maintaining efficiency, cost and comfort for our customers.”
Centrica Business Solutions is also working with various other residential appliance manufacturers to explore opportunities to provide flexibility services to the electricity grid.