Centrica has turned 100 Cornish homes into a “virtual power plant” as part of a £19 million local energy market trial.

The company has fitted smart battery systems in all 100 properties and solar panels in the 60 which did not already have them installed.

They will now be aggregated together and used to provide flexibility services for the local electricity network, which is becoming increasingly constrained due to the high penetration of renewables in Cornwall.

The services will be sold through an online marketplace developed in partnership with the University of Exeter, Imperial College London, Western Power Distribution and National Grid.

Centrica distributed power systems director Mark Futyan said: “This is the first project in the world to adopt a market-based approach to local grid services, providing Western Power Distribution and National Grid with a route to buy flexibility at the local level, while managing any conflicts between local and national needs.

“The new marketplace can play a vital role in supporting decarbonisation, by bringing forward much needed flexibility to balance out intermittent renewable generation. With these 100 homes on board, we can now demonstrate the residential virtual power plant concept and start to test the true potential of the local energy marketplace.”

The local energy market trial was launched by Centrica in December 2016. Last year the company announced it would test the use of blockchain technology to enable peer-to-peer trading between participants, which include both businesses and households.

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