Domestic Energy Storage and Control (DESC)

Start date: September 2016 End date: June 2018 Network Fund: £625,700

The project will involve collecting 12 months’ worth of data on how much energy is generated, stored and transferred to the grid by domestic customers who own solar photo-voltaic (PV) cells and energy storage units. We are gathering data from 70 participants who all have solar panels and domestic batteries of different makes and sizes – produced by three different manufacturers: Powervault (UK), Sonnen (Germany) and Tesla (USA). A total of 55 of the devices are alternating current (AC) devices and 15 are direct current (DC) devices. The participants all live across our three licence areas in London, the East of England and the South East Coast.


The project will involve collecting 12 months’ worth of data on how much energy is generated, stored and transferred to the grid by customers who own solar PV and storage.

There are two key strands of work:

Data analysis: The data from the trials will be analysed to help us quantify the demand from a typical customer with solar PV cells and storage, so we can adequately plan to meet the demands of the customers of the future. We will also quantify the typical export to grid. This will inform the standards we put in place to ensure we continue to offer great customer service and maintaining a reliable network.

Smart charging trials: During the trial we aim to measure how some batteries can be operated differently to maximise benefits to the customer and the local grid. This will help us quantify the value of a virtual power plant model, which we could buy from customers in the future.


Enough solar panels have been installed in our three licence areas over the last five years to generate 495MW of electricity, sufficient to power all the homes in a city the size of Cambridge.

More recently, the reduction in the Feed-in-Tariff, which incentivises customers to install and use more distributed generation (DG) such as solar panels, has reduced. The cost of batteries is also coming down, causing more customers to team them with their solar cells to reduce the amount of electricity they import from the network and maximise savings.


UKPN seeks to understand how the potential additional energy source from the battery combined with the solar generation could change how we design, plan and build networks.

We want to find out:

  • How to safely accommodate as many batteries as possible: We want to enable customers to install solar cells and storage as quickly as possible and at the lowest cost. By understanding exactly what effect the batteries are having on the network we hope we will be able to process applications for small-scale storage even more quickly. We have already launched a service to enable quicker battery connections.
  • How much money can be made from lending batteries to DNOs: We will test and quantify how much revenue customers could get from lending their batteries to DNOs once in a while. We’re looking into whether we can do this by creating ‘virtual power stations’, where we’d group together lots of batteries to provide a short-term boost to the electricity system at peak times like in the evening.


We also seek to understand how we can forecast the long-term growth impacts across our networks through modelling from empirical data of the project.