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London is trialling its first ‘virtual power station’… again

Homeowners will be paid to store energy as part of a trial run for a “virtual power station”, the government announced this morning.

Participating Londoners are being asked to keep batteries in their homes to support the city’s electricity grid amid heavy winter demand.

If successful, the virtual power station will help to reduce carbon emissions in line with the UK’s net zero goal for 2050.

Powervault is the company behind the government-backed trial.

“Home energy storage is essential if we are to reduce our net carbon emissions to zero. Our vision is that Powervault will become as commonplace as a washing machine or dishwasher, allowing clean, zero carbon energy to be stored in the home for when it is needed most and allowing home energy use to be optimised”, said Powervault chief executive Joe Warren.

“In this way we can make the grid more resilient, allowing more electric vehicles and heating systems to be installed, and reducing carbon emissions and energy costs”.

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One of the biggest perks of home batteries is that they’re actually a pretty effective money saver. Consumers can choose to buy electricity when it’s cheaper and keep hold of it for when grid prices are more expensive, keeping household bills down.

Batteries can also take advantage of AI to optimise energy consumption, meaning electricity companies won’t need to dig up the streets of London to replace faulty cables as often as they do now.

They can also be used to store excess self-generated energy from solar panels and sold back to energy companies for a bit of cash.

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This isn’t technically the first trial of its kind. UK Power Networks (UKPN) paid 45 households to take care of batteries on its behalf in 2018, drawing on the energy in times of need.

The initial trial ended up reducing household evening peak electricity demand by 60% and cut carbon emissions from electricity by 20% for the average household.

“These smart batteries are part of the UK’s green revolution, with the government investing more than £3 billion in low carbon innovation, as we aim to end our contribution to climate change entirely by 2050”, said Energy and Clean Growth minister Kwasi Kwarteng.

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