Centrica has powered up its local energy marketplace (LEM) trial in Cornwall, adding blockchain capabilities with the help of LO3 Energy.
The £19 million LEM trial has been in the works for more than a year, with Centrica signing up 150 local homes and businesses to participate. Solar and storage systems have been offered to participants with the trial set to examine the potential for local, decentralised markets to support local grid flexibility.
Blockchain technology provides a secure platform for consumers to buy and sell from each other, giving them greater control. Blockchain groups buy and sell transactions together into blocks that are securely linked so that the trade history is permanent and unalterable.
Delivered in partnership with energy blockchain company LO3 Energy (LO3), the project will see the roll out of the technology in Centrica’s LEM programme in an effort to explore how new approaches could disrupt the traditional energy model.
The LEM has been established by Centrica Business Solutions to test the role of distributed generation and storage in supporting local grid flexibility in the south west of England. The blockchain trial will take this a step further, testing a range of energy transactions including multi-party peer to peer trading across 200 business and residential participants using LO3’s new Exergy platform.
Unlike the traditional model where businesses manage their electricity procurement through fixed price contracts, or power purchase agreements, Direct Energy Business will use LO3’s platform to offer large commercial and industrial companies the opportunity to place their own orders for customised power hedges that are then matched with the best offer in a competitive system.
Mark Hanafin, CEO of Centrica Business said: “The proliferation of digital technologies is having a significant impact on the energy industry, allowing us to find new and better ways of delivering energy and services to our customers.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to test blockchain technology beyond the theoretical and put it into practice, developing innovative new solutions that will empower consumers in the UK, North America and beyond to take control of how they engage with energy.”
Last year, Centrica Innovations invested into LO3 Energy as part of a £100m programme to identify, incubate and accelerate new technologies with the potential to transform the way we live, work and move.
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