Centrica and sonnen team up to create UK’s ‘most advanced’ virtual power plant

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The sonnen batteries will work together as one big virtual power plant | Credit: sonnen

Network of 100 batteries in homes across the UK will be linked via the cloud to provide demand response services to the grid

Centrica and sonnen have won approval from the National Grid to link together a network of domestic energy storage batteries to create a virtual power plant that will be one of the first of its kind in the UK.

Centrica has already helped 100 homeowners install sonnen’s smart home batteries. Now the approval granted on Friday by National Grid means they can now be grouped under Centrica’s Flexpond software to allow the grid to call upon them to charge and discharge en masse.

The system should help grid operators better manage the peaks and troughs of power supply from intermittent renewables, while allowing customers to store energy from their solar panels and cut their energy bills, Centrica said.

Pieter-Jan Mermans, global optimisation director at Centrica, said the project was breaking new ground in bringing virtual power plants to the domestic energy market. 

“In the past, automated Demand Response was the domain of large industrial and commercial energy users, he said. “In the last 12 months we have shown that networks of devices such as home batteries and hot water tanks can also take part, putting the customer in greater control of their energy, making them more sustainable and helping lower their bills.”

Centrica and sonnen said they plan to build even bigger virtual power plants in the future, to help the grid to stabilise as larger volumes of renewable power come online.

“Every megawatt provided across the network replaces one that would have been generated by conventional fossil fuel power stations,” pointed out Jean-Baptiste Cornefert, managing director of sonnen e-Services.

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