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Buy, swap & sell: How peer to peer trading is connecting communities

Garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree. That’s where most of us go to sell the things we no longer want or need. So, what about solar power?

Believe it or not, there is a way you can sell the excess electricity you generate from solar panels. Currently, residential solar owners can only sell their excess energy to Synergy under the relevant energy buyback scheme. That’s until we helped open up the flood gates to allow some WA households sell their energy to each other.

Known as peer to peer (P2P) energy sharing, this initiative was part of two collaborative trials carried out in White Gum Valley, and more recently in Fremantle with the RENeW Nexus project.

What is P2P energy trading?
It’s all about being able to buy and sell solar energy generated from rooftops with your neighbours. Rather than selling electricity at a set price, households can agree on a price, giving them greater empowerment and choice about their energy use, while also potentially saving money.

For example, if your solar panels produce excess electricity during the day while at work, you could sell the extra energy to your neighbour who doesn’t have solar panels.

Ben Stanton, Head of Business Development and Strategy, says “the trading of electricity is not new – people have been doing this already by selling their excess energy back to Synergy. But trading electricity on a local level here in WA is new. The trial showed how small communities could trade electricity in a new way".

P2P trials – a joint effort
The RENeW Nexus P2P trials was part of an Australian Government Smart Cities initiative carried out in partnership with Curtin University, Power Ledger, Synergy, energyOS and Western Power.

The trials enabled further use of renewable infrastructure and gave solar owners (prosumers –  those who actively sell and consume energy), the opportunity to participate in energy trading markets at a local level. Households without solar panels were also able to take part through the purchase of energy from their neighbours.

Our involvement – a world first
With our existing network and Synergy’s customers, Power Ledger’s blockchain trading platform enabled households in Fremantle to actively set their own prices and sell energy to their neighbours in real time.

“Peer to peer trading could potentially provide an alternative to the regulated renewable energy buyback scheme (REBS)* providing owners of solar panels and users of the energy exported from those solar systems to agree an appropriate rate”, says Ben Stanton.

Our smart meter data was fed into Power Ledger’s secure platform and then exported to Synergy’s billing system, to ensure a secure and accurate recording of the energy being traded. This meant participants were also able to track their energy usage in 30 minute intervals, instead of waiting the standard 30-60 days when they receive their bill.

When no P2P trading occurred, residents could buy electricity at set rates. Any excess energy not sold on the platform was bought by Synergy.

In this trial, Telstra communications was used to record data. However in the future, should peer to peer trading get the green light, AMI (our advanced metering infrastructure) would be a more cost effective option. AMI also has the potential to support a much larger peer to peer network.

Helping shape a sustainable future

Technological innovations such as P2P energy sharing is producing a more flexible, resilient and efficient energy grid for the future that will meet the demands of modern energy customers.

And we’re excited to be part of it.

 

* Or the distributed energy buyback scheme (DEBS) from August 2020.