An initiative by Bristish-based multinational utility Centrica will see the installation of residential energy storage batteries in up to 100 selected homes in Cornwall. This is part of the energy company’s programme known as Local Energy Market (LEM), which trials innovative ways to use decentralised renewables and smart energy technologies with the aim to help stabilise local electricity network capacity and flexibility in demand and supply.
The point of the LEM is to create a local ‘market’ where homes and businesses that have all been fitted with renewable energy technology in a given region are connected in an online virtual market place. As renewable energy generators themselves, all of them are able to sell energy capacity to the wholesale energy market as well as the electricity grid network at times of peak or low demand. The flexibility of this system aids in the relief of pressure on the grid network and the reduction of energy prices.
A particularly interesting part of the programme is the installation of what is said to be “the largest operating containerised vanadium redox flow machine system in the UK”. The flow machine is an energy storage device. The machine, comprising an installed capacity of 1MW, has been connected to the local grid by manufacturer RedT Energy at The Olde House, a 600-acre working farm and holiday retreat in north Cornwall, which is home to a number of solar farms. The newly installed machine’s job is to ensure The Olde House is optimally supplied with solar power throughout the day, keep track of changes in frequency on the local network, and participate in the capacity market. The expectation is that this will save up to 50% on imported electricity.
Centrica is trialling the Local Energy Market for three years, along with partners Western Power Distribution, National Grid and Exeter University. The project costs £19 million, split between Centrica, the British Gas Energy for Tomorrow Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, the latter contributing the lion’s share of £13m.
Centrica’s Managing Director of Distributed Energy & Power, Jorge Pikunic, said:
“This is a truly unique opportunity for us to work together with local businesses and homes and explore new approaches that help us all take control of how we use, generate and store energy in Cornwall and beyond”.