The North East is set to trial a ‘community virtual power plant’ aimed at bringing down energy bills.

The North of Tyne Combined Authority has signed a memorandum of understanding with North American technology firm QSecGrid which paves the way for the pilot. They will identify a local social housing provider to work with and trial the technology.

A community virtual power plant is the cumulative effect of thousands of homes storing energy and selling it back to the grid during peak demand. Residents are in control of selling energy generated from solar panels and stored in their own battery.

When combined, it is estimated that a community virtual powerplant could provide enough power to meet peak demand, meaning the National Grid wouldn’t need to turn on a gas-fired power station.

Controlled through a smartphone or tablet, QSecGrid’s app ‘QGEMS’ uses advanced artificial intelligence to learn how energy is used in the home to make smart recommendations to residents, to help them save money on bills. 

It also monitors the weather to predict solar energy generation and calculates when energy is in the highest demand, to enable residents to sell energy they are not using back to the grid, at the highest price.

It’s estimated the pilot will save residents hundreds of pounds off their bills each year, without having to switch suppliers, over and above the value of the electricity generated by their solar panels.

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“This is the Green New Deal in action. This is putting local people back in control – you can save money on your bills and make money,” said Mayor Jamie Driscoll.

“You don’t need to change your supplier and it’s not being dictated by energy companies. We’re going to need to triple the grid capacity in this country to deal with the demand for energy.  And that demand will continue to grow as we build more homes, and more people drive electric cars.

“I want everyone who has a roof to have this technology and benefit from lower bills.”

Gordon Winston, CEO of QSecGrid, said: “We are excited that the North East is becoming our UK base.

“Because of its depth in tech talent and the progressive nature of the green policies of Mayor Jamie Driscoll, it provides us an exciting opportunity to demonstrate how our technological prowess can lower energy bills and contribute to a cleaner environment, as well as growing our development team, in partnership with local universities.”

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