Homes and businesses deliver flexible green energy to Cornwall's Local Energy Market

A fully automated Local Energy Market (LEM) in Cornwall has, for the first time, seen the local Distribution System Operator (DSO) and the National Grid ESO procure flexible green energy from businesses and households simultaneously.

The auctions can run from months ahead all the way to intraday transactions

The auctions can run from months ahead all the way to intraday transactions

Centrica’s LEM has been operating since 2017 and has seen solar and battery systems installed into 100 homes across Cornwall, while more than 125 local businesses have been fitted with similar technologies and monitoring equipment.

Centrica has revealed that the local DSO, Western Power Distribution, and the Transmission System Operator, the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator, have simultaneously procured flexible energy from the system via a third-party platform.

National Grid ESO’s electricity market change development manager Colm Murphy said: “Exploring the provision of flexibility through a local energy market is a first for us and even though we’re in the early stages of the trial, we’re looking forward to evaluating the results.

“In particular we’re keen to understand how flexibility can be procured efficiently and cost-effectively between different markets. The potential is really exciting as we look to unlock more flexible energy resources in the market, and greater cost benefits to consumers.”

Flexible energy

The move is a big boost to improving the flexibility of the grid. It allows system operators to signal a need for an increase or decrease in local generation or consumption in order to balance the grid. N-SIDE, a Belgian advanced analytics company, has provided an algorithm to create pricing mechanisms that can match offers from the DSO and ESO and sellers from homes and businesses to sell energy into the grid at times of demand.

The auctions can run from months ahead all the way to intraday transactions, creating financial incentives for businesses and homes to store renewable energy and sell at the time of demand.

The LEM features a 250kW solar PV array coupled with a 90kW/1MWh battery at The Olde House farm and holiday retreat, and two 35kW combined heat and power units (CHP) at the Carbis Bay Hotel & Estate looks set to save the hotel £30,000 annually.

Centrica Business Solutions’ director of optimisation Pieter-Jan Mermans said: “This is a milestone moment for the energy network and comes as the result of several years of hard work by the team at Centrica and as well as our partners at National Grid ESO, WPD, N-SIDE, Exeter University and Imperial College London.

“Improving grid flexibility benefits everyone from generators to consumers, and these trials represent a major step forward. We are hugely grateful to the householders and businesses across Cornwall who have embraced this trial with open arms, and we look forward to providing a full update after the trials conclude in spring 2020.” 

Matt Mace 



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