Struggling households can look forward to discount electricity using a system that allows relatives and friends to share their excess solar power. AGL South Australia's biggest electricity company has announced the successful trial and expansion of so called peer-to-peer trading scheme in Adelaide, which uses an app to share the power.
Elisabeth Brinton AGL spokeswomen said that company has allowed 20 Adelaide homes to sell or gift extra electricity generated on their roofs to relatives, friends or even charities, since July. And company was fine-tuning the prototype internet app which makes the scheme work. An Australian-first expansion of the trial scheme will follow for Adelaide, with house numbers yet to be determined, and other states will follow.
Ms Brinton said in the coming months, company will expand the scope of peer-to-peer pilot to more customers to test a new range of exciting features in the prototype app, peer-to-peer electricity sale is popular in progressive northern European countries but in Australia has only been the subject of one trial in Perth and a simulation in Melbourne.
It opens the way for solar electricity to become more widely available to those who cannot afford the upfront costs. Solar has long been criticised by the welfare sector, because for the environmental benefits, taxpayers subsidise those who can afford to pay to install rooftop panels.
Uniting Communities utilities expert Mark Henley hailed the system as part of the answer for the state’s electricity crisis, we are very supportive of this approach by AGL, it opens up the possibility of the less well off being able to access cheaper solar electricity from a relative or even the bloke down the road.
Distributor of electricity will be the only loser in the system because peer-to-peer trading cuts out reliance on the grid, and allows people to bypass the grid to deal with each other, the system is a “virtual” internet-based one and it does not involve the actual transfer of electricity from one house to the other.
The solar generator feeds electricity into the grid as usual, AGL records what is used by the home “receiving” the power, and bills are calculated based on the price set by the selling household, and AGL keeps track of the electricity you are “sending” to an elderly relative or the church down the road and how much you are selling it to them for, Ms Brinton said.
She also said as more of our customers install solar and batteries, they are playing an increasingly important role in the electricity system, and we are finding new ways to enable them to actively participate in that system and engage with each other and their community.
Households which generate the solar electricity can also win from the scheme, by selling their electricity at slightly more than the very low feed-in payment they would otherwise receive, they also will make more money. Power giants also pay households for the electricity they produce.