Homes and businesses in Cornwall are to trial a virtual energy marketplace.
Centrica will work with renewable generators and businesses over the next three years to install free smart technology and energy storage units.
They will also put battery units and micro combined heat and power (CHP) plants into place in around 100 homes.
Once this has been completed, participants can enter a virtual marketplace in which they can sell their flexible energy capacity to both the grid and wholesale markets.
The £19 million programme aims to test whether a distributed system of flexible demand generation and storage could really take the place of a centralised energy network.
It is funded by Centrica with a grant of £13 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Jorge Pikunic, Managing Director of Centrica Distributed Energy & Power, said: “Cornwall has been at the forefront of harnessing renewable generation but that has brought challenges to the local grid.
“Our ambition is to explore how battery storage, flexible demand and generation can to reduce pressure on the UK’s electricity grid, avoid expensive network upgrades and support future decarbonisation.”