A Cornwall resident participating in the LEM. Image: Centrica

Centrica’s LEM hits a new milestone as flexibility from solar-plus-storage is procured by both National Grid ESO and Western Power Distribution (WPD) on the same platform.

This marks the first time in the world a transmission system operator and a distribution network operator have procured flexibility simultaneously from the same third-party platform, Centrica said.

A hundred sonnen batteries with capacities of 5kW, 7.5kW and 10kW have been installed in homes across Cornwall, as well as 46 solar PV systems, with the remaining 54 houses taking part in the LEM already having PV. 

A 1MWh redT redox flow machine was also installed at working farm and holiday retreat, The Olde House, in 2017 as part of the trial.

Over 125 businesses were also kitted out with a variety of flexible low carbon energy technologies and monitoring technology, including solar and storage, as well as combined heat and power units among other technologies.

This flexibility is now being traded through Centrica’s trading platform, which allows both WPD – the DNO for the region – and National Grid ESO to place bids for flexibility services. They can both indicate when they will need an increase or decrease in generation or consumption to balance the grid or manage a local network constraint.

These bids are then matched with offers from sellers through auctions that can run from months in advance to intraday. Sellers receive a financial reward for their services.

Jenny Woodruff, project manager at WPD, said as flexibility services will increasingly be used, the chances of conflicts occuring rises.

“It’s potentially a significant problem, so this trial is an exciting step to find a solution,” she said.

The LEM is being part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is one of several projects taking part in Ofgem’s regulatory sandbox. Partners in the project are National Grid ESO, WPD, N-SIDE, Exeter University and Imperial College London.

Pieter-Jan Mermans, director of optimisation at Centrica Business Solutions, said the trials are a “major step forward” in improving grid flexibility.

“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.”