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Innovative Trial for Grid Balancing Using Home Storage Heaters

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In the UK, utility Centrica and Ireland-based home appliance manufacturer Glen Dimplex are planning a pilot project to carry out a large trial using home smart storage heaters to balance grid loads. The heaters will be linked together as a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) so the residential customers will be helping manage demands on the grid, starting from September.

The storage heaters will be installed in approximately 375 homes and operate with renewable energy, storing power when it is available and pausing this energy harvesting when demand threatens to outstrip supply.

The trial, which is expected to run for two years, will add 2.5 MW of capacity to the 16MW of domestic devices already in service such as battery storage, electric vehicles and smart hot water tanks. The VPP adds flexibility to the system so grid operators can balance the peaks and troughs that come with intermittent renewable sources.

For the first time, the project adds storage heaters to the VPP. The heaters offer a low-cost alternative to heat pumps in many scenarios, Glen Dimplex is installing their Quantum off-peak heaters to local authorities and affordable housing providers which will deliver to residents heat on demand, total control and lower energy bills.

Muiris Flynn, Glen Dimplex's Chief Technical Officer says, “This is the cheapest form of direct-electric heating, and can help social housing providers to combat fuel poverty.” He continues, “By aligning with renewable generation we’re providing a low carbon, maintenance free, simple to install and easy to use heating system that ensures residents’ bills are kept at a minimum.”

Electric storage heaters have traditionally worked with overnight money-saving tariffs, but the latest models will be able to utilise renewable energy as well.

In February, UK energy regulator Ofgem approved Centrica’s proposal to trial the provision of flexibility services in the Balancing Mechanism (BM), paving the way for a much more device-led approach to energy flexibility if the pilot project is successful.

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