Providing flexibility and grid services will become increasingly valuable to firms with combined heat and power (CHP) systems, according to Chris Marsland, technical director of ENER-G Combined Power.
Marsland said the business, acquired earlier this year by Centrica, expected significant growth over the next 12 months, which would result in a doubling of the “eight billion datapoints” it currently handles.
Speaking at the ADE’s heat conference, Marsland said the firm was concentrating on turning that data into insight. ENER-G is building an integrated system that automatically links together all customer generation and storage assets – such as CHP, battery storage and solar – to improve their overall efficiency, “balance out the energy flows” and make the total more effective than the sum of the parts, according to Marsland.
Optimising aggregated customer assets will also enable firms to “access the new value streams for CHP, such as grid support and demand-side response”, said Marsland. “As we look forward, there will be more value in that, and possibly less value in the good old kilowatt.”
However, customer trust and engagement represent a barrier to scaling an aggregator-type business model, Marsland acknowledged.
“You are dealing with the energy manager, the maintenance manager and buildings team, with the finance team – it crosses so many different areas within the business. It is really hard to drill down and get the right person who can both make a decision – and bring along the other people involved [in the process],” he said.
Marsland though expressed optimism that digitisation of the energy industry would help remove market barriers. While government and Ofgem are asking how to facilitate greater access to energy markets, Marsland said technology was already beginning to provide some answers.
“Having visibility of energy prices in real-time available to everybody through the internet will help and I think the introduction of smart contracts maybe linked to the blockchains, the bitcoins, will enable peer-to-peer transactions for a single customer with a big utility,” he said.
“I think that will be a big enabler.”