Centrica hopes to tap domestic flexibility by targeting households with solar power, selling them battery storage and heat pumps and tying it all together through energy management systems.
According to latest government data, there are some 976,000 solar PV installations in Great Britain. By volume, the vast majority (93 per cent) are sub-4kW, suggesting around 900,000 households have PV on their roofs, representing roughly 2.6GW of installed capacity.
Centrica calculates that co-locating small scale storage alongside domestic PV could create 4.5GW of flexible power capacity – if homeowners can be convinced that installing batteries is worth their while.
The company has invested in two start-ups in a bid to try and unlock the smart homes market.
One is Mixergy, a University of Oxford spin-out that has developed ‘smart’ hot water tanks and which has been involved in a Beis and Innovate UK-funded trial that paired 500 hot water tanks alongside 100 lithium-ion batteries in homes across Cornwall and London.
The other is GreenCom Networks, which has developed a home energy management system designed to help increase energy efficiency and flexibility.
Centrica thinks home energy management will be a £2bn annual market in Europe and North America by 2025.
Asked whether it would fund storage for households, or look at ‘as-a-service’ models, a Centrica spokesperson said the company is “looking at all options funding-wise”. It plans to develop “a series of propositions for testing this year with a view to launching into the market more widely in 2020”.
Update: Headline amended to reflect Centrica has invested in, rather than acquired start-ups