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Core4Grid

Core4Grid is demonstrating the potential of a future flexible grid – today. Working with industry partners, the project is enabling customers to access the fast-growing flexibility market by installing domestic demand-side-response Hybrid Home™ devices in 24 UK homes.

The project is being led by energy innovators geo. Visit geo’s website.

Project-on-a-Page summary

Project data

Start date: 01/03/2019
End date: 01/02/2021
Budget: 999,810 awarded to geo by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The project, led by smart energy firm geo with EDF, UK Power Networks, The Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust, Cambridge Energy, Everoze and Upside Energy, sees geo’s ‘Core’ energy brain fitted in 24 UK homes. The homes were already equipped with solar panels and electric vehicle chargers, and geo has added smart meters and batteries to complete the set of modern energy technology.

Geo’s “Core” energy co-ordinator device, a central microcomputer, integrates all of the different technology in the homes to run as a whole system, optimising the different devices, reducing participating households’ carbon footprint and lowering energy costs.

In March 2020, homes in the trial with solar panels saved on more than half of the energy they used – partly from using more renewable energy, and partly from using energy which came from their batteries previously charged overnight when energy is much cheaper. Less than half of their electricity came directly from the grid.

The devices will allow the team to further understand how  domestic flexibility can be used to benefit our customers. The trial has the following targets:

  • Demonstrate that domestic flexible grid technology is ready to deploy affordably, with a net economic benefit realisable at scale.
  • Demonstrate that households are positive about becoming active consumers e.g
    automatically participating in demand flexibility
  • Demonstrate that aggregated Hybrid Homes provide flexibility; reliable and sizeable in key stress areas.

The trial features a range of brand new energy technologies, including geo’s Core microcomputer. It is the first time that the devices have been trialed with network operators and energy suppliers to understand how the homes can respond to signals from the network to balance supply and demand. We refer to this as ‘Demand Side Response’.

Taking a market-led approach, the Core systems decide how and when each home should use its energy, depending on grid signals from trial partners Upside Energy through their online energy market optimisation and control software. This could pave the way to a raft of new solutions which will be integral to our Net Zero transition.

Depending on the technology in each home, Core makes complex, up-to-the minute decisions, ranging from charging the battery at off-peak hours (when energy is cheaper), to charging the battery using the solar panels but storing the power for another time, or even charging users’ electric vehicles straight from their battery to reduce the amount of energy they ‘import’ from the grid.

Core4Grid runs until February 2021, with a number of different Demand Side Response trials underway.

From the trial, the consortium aims to better understand how these modern technologies, optimising various markets, can be used in different scenarios to create the most value for customers in terms of carbon and cost savings. It will also help us better understand how we can use Demand Side Response to run the network more efficiently and save money for our customers.

The research is aiming to prove that domestic flexibility can help us run the network more efficiently and work for our  customers. The main benefits are:

  • Design & Build: Policy framework, consumer  proposition, technical
    architecture.
  • Test & Improve: Economic viability, technology readiness, consumer acceptance.
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