sonnen are working with Centrica, the UK’s largest retail energy supplier, to create the country’s largest virtual power plant to include 100 households with a solar photovoltaic system and a sonnenBatterie.

As part of the EU funded Cornwall Local Energy Market (LEM) programme, the ground-breaking project will demonstrate how households can not only produce and store their own energy but also trade energy capacity to the wholesale energy market and provide flexibility to the local grid.

The participating households will significantly lower their electricity bills by using a sonnenBatterie to optimize their consumption of solar energy. Connected by sonnen’s digital platform for virtual power plants, they will also be able to buy and store energy from the grid when prices are low or sell their energy to the grid when prices are high. The platform could even enable households to be paid when they reduce or delay their consumption from the grid.

“We’re proud to be contributing our leading knowledge in battery storage and virtual power plants in this historic project. The Cornwall LEM provides a window into an energy future that will consist of millions of decentralized producers of renewable energies. With their huge experience and extensive reach across the energy industry, Centrica is the perfect partner for this groundbreaking project.”, says Martin Allman, Country Director of sonnen UK.

The batteries installed on the LEM platform can operate dynamically using price signals. At times where there is low electricity demand and excess generation from solar PV, prices are low and it is more cost effective to store energy in the battery. At the same time, storing energy during the production peaks provides flexibility to help relieve the local grid network. If electricity demand is greater than the PV generation, prices increase and it becomes more attractive to sell the stored energy to the grid and wholesale market. In this way, the LEM platform uses price signals to provide flexibility to the grid which might otherwise be constrained at time of peak or low demand.

“Through the Cornwall LEM we want to show that a decentralized and digital energy system is already possible using today’s technology and that we don’t have to wait 10 years”, says Allman. “The energy landscape is seeing huge changes which will continue much faster than many people think. We are thrilled to be able to demonstrate the role that smart batteries in homes can play in the transition towards a secure, affordable and low carbon energy system”.

The solar PV systems and batteries will be installed by January 2018, with further testing and development of the VPP platform set to continue until Spring 2020.