Empowered people get charging tools
A new company hopes to help bypass big electricity providers and let people trade their own power amongst themselves.
A new Sydney-based start-up called Local Volts has been launched ahead of the arrival Tesla battery in Australia this month.
The battery is designed to store extra power from rooftop solar generation to be used when the Sun goes down, so homeowners can get even more out of their personal renewable plants.
Local Volts has set up a system a system that allows consumers to trade their surplus energy with other households, businesses and community groups in their grid via a virtual shop.
The hope is that none of the energy generated on Australia’s millions of solar-panelled rooftops will be wasted.
“Anybody, whether you're big or small, whether you're a farmer or residential person, whether you're a high school or tennis club, can become an energy farmer,” Local Volts spokesperson Jitendra Tomar told ABC reporters.
“If I'm buying electricity, I can say; ‘Well I just want to buy for next month and I have a preference for rooftop solar coming from Manly, and if that's not enough for me, I will take something from New South Wales as long as it's rooftop solar, and if that's not enough, I'll go for windmills’.
“And if you're people living in an apartment and you want to buy from your tennis club, because you like the price, you have a special price for tennis club members, you say; ‘Yeah, I'll buy electricity from my tennis club’.
“Finally we're going to have a choice.”
Energy companies seem eager to get in to the technology too.
CitiPower and Powercor – the company behind over half of Victoria’s poles and wires network - is setting up 18 test sites for a three-year solar battery storage trial looking at their network impact.
CitiPower and Powercor spokesperson Glen Thomson said the democratisation of electricity could soon bypass traditional power generation entirely.
“There's no doubt that over time, the centralised model will come under greater threat, as home-based generation grows,” he told the ABC.
“We see our grid as ultimately [being] the spine of allowing that to occur, as micro-grids are formed, as home generation technologies are rolled out over the next decade or so.
“We are looking at what is the best way to enable our grid to use innovative technologies and enable customer choice.”
Momentum is certainly rising, with the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney conducting virtual trials of local energy trading this year, and the Australian Energy Council studying the implications of solar trading within the electricity grid as well.
Given that much of the average energy bill is made up of network fees and charges, experts and consumers are keen to see how much cheaper energy bills might be when consumers trade between each other.