UK network operator Northern Powergrid has announced a £1.9m ($2.5m) scheme that aims to model how to integrate decentralized energy produced by prosumers into a future smart energy system.

The firm says its goal is to “put its eight million customers at the heart of the smart grid, creating a new energy market where they can make money from solar panels, electric vehicles and home batteries”.

The three-year project, called the Customer-Led Distribution System, will model how to accommodate large volumes of new technologies, such as local generation and electric vehicles, at the lowest cost while allowing customers to sell power or services to balance the network.

Northern Powergrid serves 3.9 million households in England’s Northeast, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

The company said the opportunities presented by the energy transition include cutting costs by managing local energy resources to create a flexible system balancing supply and demand, for example by shifting peak consumption to avoid expensive network upgrades; accelerating the transition to a low-carbon energy system by developing smart services and infrastructure to support large volumes of renewables; and rewarding customers for supporting the system by creating a market for energy services. 

Patrick Erwin, Northern Powergrid’s policy and markets director, said: “As the network operator … we believe we are best placed to seize the opportunities of this energy transition for our customers and ensure we continue to deliver them the best services at the lowest possible cost.

“We don’t have all the answers and we want the flexibility to be able to seize new opportunities, so we are collaborating within the industry to share best practice and consulting widely with customers and experts to flesh out our plans to ensure we take the right decisions.”