In what could be a world first, the CRC for Low Carbon Living has brought together energy and infrastructure providers, a land developer and other smaller players to provide true peer-to-peer energy trading across the grid.
Trading will be between “prosumers” who generate electricity from photovoltaic cells on their roofs. They will sell to consumers, who will buy the power. The wholesaler will act as an intermediary and market maker and the system operates using a blockchain.
Prosumers will be able to set a sale price for their energy and any unsold energy at that price will be taken up by the wholesaler at a default price. Consumers will be able to set a buy price for energy they want to consume and buy any additional energy they need from the wholesaler at a default price.
Synergy will act as wholesaler and Western Power is providing the infrastructure for the project at LandCorp’s Knutsford East Village site in Fremantle, WA.
Legacy, the Living Lab, will provide real-time monitoring of the system, and data visualisation and will be available for researchers, students and other interested parties to further their understanding of how these systems can work.
According to the professor leading the “Living Lab” project, Professor Greg Morrison from Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute, “the visualisation part of the project is funded by the CRCLCL and will provide a compelling interactive experience where potential buyers of Knutsford site homes can ‘see’ how trading actually works.”
This work builds on what was learned about energy sharing at White Gum Valley (also a Living Laboratory) and in some strata schemes.
The difference between these schemes and the Knutsford East Village project is that the earlier schemes traded energy from behind a single grid-facing meter. In the Knutsford implementation, each property has a meter attached to the grid. The meters, described by Professor Morrison, as “smarter than your average smart meter,” allow real-time monitoring of power throughput, and are a scalable solution.
Professor Morrison is hopeful that what is learned about energy trading in this implementation can be applied to a new project investigating water trading – where water captured from rooftops both avoids the need to dispose of it through the stormwater system and can be used in lieu of drinking quality mains water for uses such as toilet flushing and gardening, all with a value attached.
“In our modern world most solar and water trading users are not scientists or data experts, so visualising how data tells a story is imperative for consumer uptake, which is where this project really fills a void,” he said.
He added, that, while trading energy and water in systems like this does nothing to directly reduce the amount of resources used, the information about their consumption will give consumers more control over, and understanding of, their resource use and costs.
For suppliers and partners like Synergy and Western Power, the Living Lab is an opportunity to observe these systems operating on a small scale so they can understand how they might be implemented across the entire network.