Western Australia: Residents sell their own excess solar power for the first time
The worldâ€™s first trial to help people with solar systems sell their excess electricity to each other, not back to the grid has been launched with the help of the technology behind virtual currency â€˜bitcoinâ€™.
A Software called â€˜blockchainâ€™ is the one that is used to show residents of 10 homes what would happen if they were to trade their electricity with their neighbours, how much they would make and how it would work.
Research Fellow at Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute, Jemma Green said â€œa similar virtual trial is being conducted in New York, but the company’s imminent ‘real’ trial with 80 homes in a second South West location, actually doing the transactions and moving the electricity, will be a world first.â€
â€œMore than 22 per cent of Perth and South West homes now hadÂ solar panels and the trial was a natural extension for a marketplace clearly hungry for solar and battery technology. When Tesla announced its power wall battery on April 30 last year it had $800 million in pre-orders in the first week,â€ she added.
“As prices come down we will see mainstream takeup, the research suggests.
“It’sÂ clear people want control of their electricity and to commercialise it how they see fit.”
Currently Synergy pays seven cents per unit to people who sell their excess energy back to the grid.Â But if people then needed to buy more energy they still had to pay 26 cents per unit.Â
Ms Green said “apart from people getting a return on their solar panel investment sooner, there will be an increase in installations. A local government might have demand in one area but no roof space, and lowerÂ lower energy use down the road in a place that can have panels installed. They could then use the blockchain to provide for more of their own energy needs.â€
“At the moment we pay a flat energy tariff and also a time of day tariff based on how much it costs to produce energy at that time of the day. So people can store energy and sell it while the price is high.”
â€œTheÂ “blockchain” database enabled peopleÂ to lose the middlemen,â€ Ms. Green added.
“This presents an enormous opportunity for traditional providers whose current model is in decline,” Ms Green said.
“Over the next few years, battery storage will become cost competitive and will compete with grid electricity. All this will reduce the utilisation of the grid even more.
“But if you relate to the grid as a trading platform and enable peer-to-peer technology consumers to use it and pay fees you ensure its ongoing relevance,â€ she concluded.