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Hundreds of homes help balance UK energy system through DSR trial

Up to 350 households are taking part in the USER project to trial ‘smart hubs’ that revolutionise hot water cylinders and support the low carbon transition.

The USER Project was awarded government funding in 2019 to demonstrate the demand-side-response potential of the UK’s nine million hot water cylinders using Levelise AI-led optimisation and Baxi Heating hardware.

The homes taking part in the trial have now been confirmed and include participants from a mix of private lettings, housing associations and student accommodation. With one third of the installations completed, the project has reached over 60% of its 1MW capacity target. The next focus is to commercially provide ancillary services to help accommodate fluctuations in the supply and demand of electricity, which becomes more complex as the UK’s renewable energy output increases.

Households taking part in the trial will be rewarded for providing balancing services to the grid as well as being able to access off-peak energy prices. This is achieved as a result of the ‘smart hubs’ ability to switch the hot water cylinders immersion heater on when there are grid balancing requirements or surplus energy available where prices can be lower. The hot water can then be stored for use later in the day.

Ivan Castro, co-founder of Levelise said: “This is an exciting and important time to access the untapped potential of existing and future hot water cylinders in UK homes. Some 600,000 heat pumps co-located cylinders are set to be deployed each year from 2028, and all new homes will be built zero carbon ready from 2025. The USER technology is creating a pathway for decarbonising heat from UK homes whilst ensuring energy bills are also considerably reduced.”

The demonstration project aligns with the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan for an industrial revolution which saw a pledge for offshore wind farms to generate electricity to power every home in the UK by 2030. A large-scale rollout of USER technology could optimise energy use and tap into a combined thermal storage capacity of 100 GWh based on nine million hot water cylinders.

15 February 2021

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