Centrica to access flexibility from storage heaters in exchange for benefits to domestic users

Centrica is due to begin a trial this September in which controllable storage heaters will provide demand-side response when needed, by dialling down their demand.
In partnership with Glen Dimplex, this trial will initially bring use 2.5MW of storage heater assets in social housing.
It will involve Centrica participating in the balancing mechanism as a Virtual Lead Party (VLP), a role which Elexon and National Grid ESO created in 2019 to allow independent aggregators to offer balancing services.
Centrica believes that it can deliver material benefit to consumers participating in the trial over two years. These could include reduced tariffs or other benefits such as rent subsidies for customers who are in vulnerable circumstances and also living in social housing.
Elexon believes that the trial will benefit the energy system as a whole by reducing the costs of system balancing, and creating more competition in the provision of services.
The sites involved have non half-hourly (NHH) boundary meters and rules currently require that a site is settled half-hourly in order for a VLP to operate assets located there. However, a derogation will allow Centrica to submit information as if the site had been settled half-hourly, using data from meters in the storage heaters.
From 2023, market-wide half hourly settlement (MHHS) implementation will require that electricity generation and use by more customers use half-hourly readings. The upgrading of so-called boundary meters to achieve this will run until 2025.
Glen Dimplex has been seeking to supply smart electric thermal storage heater technology as a means of providing greater flexibility to the evolving power system, and improving services for electric heating end users. Muiris Flynn, Chief Technical Officer at Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation, said “We are excited to be involved in this forward-thinking project, and look forward to demonstrating a model that offers real benefits to stakeholders throughout the energy supply and use chain. Enabling such functionality facilitates decarbonisation and will reduce costs for electric heating users.”