British Gas acquires Antwerp-based power control firm Restore

The owner of British Gas has increased its footprint in the growing market for power control after paying €70 million (£62 million) for a European technology firm that can help balance fluctuations on the grid.

Restore based in Antwerp uses software to control the energy demand of 150 industrial and commercial customers across Belgium, the UK, France and Germany by cutting demand when supplies are tight and letting it increase when electricity is ample.

In total REstore 1.7GW worth of power demand, the capacity equivalent of half the new Hinkley Point power plant.

At one stroke, therefore, Restore can cut hundreds of megawatts of demand from the grid by temporarily reducing its customers' energy use for non-essential operations such as air conditioning, water pumps or other activities that can be delayed until overall demand falls and power supplies are able to ramp up.

The company can therefore bag the lucrative grid contracts for its customers and cut the need to build new power plants.

Centrica said in a press release, "Centrica plc has acquired REstore NV (''REstore''), Europe's leading demand response aggregator, for €70 million (£62 million) in cash."

Headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium, REstore manages 1.7GW of peak load from a portfolio of industrial and commercial (I&C) customers across Belgium, the UK, France and Germany, generating value for businesses through ancillary services including frequency response and capacity markets.

The company's world-leading software and international patents are currently used by over 150 of Europe's largest energy users, including chemical, steel and food manufacturers.

The business will form part of Centrica's international Distributed Energy & Power unit, which provides energy insight, asset optimisation and energy solutions to large energy users under the Centrica Business Solutions banner.

Through this acquisition, demand response aggregation will become a core part of the offer to customers and is expected to represent a significant growth opportunity for Centrica as global electricity markets evolve.

REstore has key capabilities in asset optimisation, one of the five strategic pillars of Centrica Business, and is complementary to those provided by Centrica's previous acquisitions of Panoramic Power, Neas Energy and ENER-G Cogen. The acquisition will also further expand Centrica's geographic footprint into new European markets.

Jorge Pikunic, managing director of Centrica Distributed Energy & Power, said, ''I am delighted to welcome REstore to Centrica. This acquisition is an important step forward in the delivery of our strategy, expanding on our offer to business customers to help them take control of their energy and gain competitive advantage.''

''REstore's proprietary technology and track record with large I&C customers will add to our optimisation capabilities and enable growth opportunities as global markets for flexibility continue to evolve.''

REstore's co-founders Pieter-Jan Mermans and Jan-Willem Rombouts, said, ''There is clearly a momentum in the market right now so we are thrilled to be working with Centrica to further scale the go-to-market of REstore's software solutions and demand response services in the UK, North America and other international markets.''