Centrica is to test the use of blockchain to enable peer-to-peer trading between households and businesses as part of its £19 million local energy market trial in Cornwall.

Transactions will be carried out through LO3 Energy’s new Exergy platform.

Blockchain is a distributed, digital ledger, which allows two parties to conduct secure, verifiable transactions without the involvement of a middle-man, such as a bank.

The technology underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and could facilitate superfast switching between suppliers.

“The proliferation of digital technologies is having a significant impact on the energy industry, allowing us to find new and better ways of delivering energy and services to our customers,” said Centrica Business chief executive Mark Hanafin.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to test blockchain technology beyond the theoretical and put it into practice, developing innovative new solutions that will empower consumers”.

Centrica Innovation invested in LO3 Energy last year as part of a £100 million programme to identify, incubate and accelerate new technologies.

LO3 Energy chief executive Lawrence Orsini said: “Exergy is designed to empower new prosumers while enabling traditional industry players to shift business models and find their place in the energy market of the future.”

Centrica launched its local energy market trial in December 2016 to test the potential for distributed generation and storage to provide flexibility to the power grid in the South West of England.

Participants have been given free smart technology upgrades and energy storage units. Around 100 homes and businesses have now signed up and Centrica is aiming to bring on another 50.

The blockchain trial will involve 200 participants, many of whom are also taking part in the local energy market trial.

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