British energy company Centrica is working toward integrating solar, storage and heat pump assets into its customer offer. The company said deploying residential storage alongside each of the U.K.’s residential rooftop installations could unlock 4.5 GW of flexible energy for the grid and drive down electricity bills. Centrica added, the industry for smart home products that enable customers to optimize energy consumption is set to be worth £2 billion a year by 2025 in North America and Europe alone. To that end, Centrica has made investments into two startups that utilize new technologies and digital approaches to smart home integration. One – GreenCom Networks – has developed an Internet of Things (IoT) platform which enables customers to save energy and either reduce their power bills or earn money for power they make available to the grid. The other startup, Mixergy – spun out of the University of Oxford’s Energy and Power Group – has developed a hot water tank capable of learning consumer usage habits. In so doing, the tank can prepare a correct amount of water to reduce the wasteful heating of large quantities. In November, Centrica launched a trial which used blockchain technology to enable residents of a London apartment block to trade energy from the building’s solar roof. The project, in Hackney, was realized at a 13-block social housing community equipped with PV systems and blockchain energy trading. The aim is to determine which billing methods would be most suitable for customers and prosumers. Using blockchain, Centrica is exploring the use of flexible tariffs to reduce energy bills while ensuring remuneration for PV system owners. The project will be launched under a “sandbox” exemption from the usual regulations applied by U.K. electricity and gas regulator Ofgem, to explore disruptive technologies. In Cornwall, Centrica rolled out a program whereby 100 homeowners received free storage systems from sonnen for use in a local energy market.
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