Centrica looks at how to encourage flexibility as Cornwall flexible energy trials conclude

Centrica has completed the largest trial of energy flexibility in the UK and called on government, industry and regulators to now build on its momentum.

On 9 November, it announced that over three years, the £16.7mn Cornwall Local Energy Market (LEM) had seen 310MWh of power traded successfully, leading to greenhouse gas savings of almost 10,000 tonnes per year. Part of the trial saw 5MW of low carbon technology installed across over 100 businesses, with a further 100 homes receiving a combination of solar panels and wall mounted battery storage. The stored capacity of the home battery systems was then combined to form a Virtual Power Plant.

Some businesses were able to save as much as 35% on energy costs when operating at times more aligned with grid needs, while the trial also managed to overcome a key obstacle to a more flexible and responsive electricity grid when the local DSO – Western Power Distribution – and the TSO – National Grid ESO both procured flexibility simultaneously through Centrica’s auction-based marketplace.

With the trial demonstrating that local flexibility trading both works and can be coordinated with the national system, Centrica set out how a range of actions for government, industry and Ofgem to build on this momentum. They include using the Energy White Paper to promote grid flexibility; introducing flexibility markets to the energy system by 2023; and a “flexibility first” approach, where government, Ofgem and distribution network operators commit to using market-based flexibility services as a first resort.