Centrica and sonnen create advanced Virtual Power Plant

Jessica Paige 20 January 2020 (Last Updated January 20th, 2020 17:24)

British energy services company Centrica and German home energy storage specialist sonnen claim to have created the UK’s most advanced Virtual Power Plant (VPP) by installing a network of 100 domestic batteries in a cloud platform.

Centrica and sonnen create advanced Virtual Power Plant
The National Grid has approved the project to provide Dynamic Firm Frequency Response (FFR) – storage space to store energy when the grid is overloaded or release the energy during periods of high demand. Photo by Centrica.

British energy services company Centrica and German home energy storage specialist sonnen claim to have created the UK’s most advanced Virtual Power Plant (VPP) by installing a network of 100 domestic batteries in a cloud platform.

The National Grid has approved the project to provide Dynamic Firm Frequency Response (FFR) – storage space to store energy when the grid is overloaded or release the energy during periods of high demand.

It uses Centrica’s cloud-based software ‘Flexpond’ to install and connect 100 of sonnen’s batteries in order to provide FFR.

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) says on its website: “FFR creates a route to market for providers whose services may otherwise be inaccessible. The FFR services gives us and service providers both a degree of stability against price uncertainty under the mandatory service arrangements.”

The project was initially announced last year in Cornwall as a part of a Local Energy Market trial. Centrica says it means that customers will be able to “maximise the amount of solar-generated electricity in their home, reducing their energy bills whilst contributing to the stability and sustainability of the UK’s electricity system.”

Centrica’s global optimisation director Pieter-Jan Mermans said: “In the past, automated demand response was the domain of large industrial and commercial energy users, 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.”

sonnen Eservices’ managing director Jean-Baptiste Cornefert said: “The digital energy transformation, towards a clean energy system, is taking place all over the world and our technology is an important key to its success. sonnen is the first provider in the UK to prequalify with a virtual power plant of decentralised home storage systems. Every megawatt provided across the network replaces one that would have been generated by conventional fossil fuel power stations.”

Centrica and sonnen were acquired by Shell in 2019 and are now working on the existing 100 sonnen batteries in order to improve storage capacity in the future.