Australian news, and some related international items

In Western Australia, retirees trading solar power

solar-panels-on-roofTrading solar power: Retirees test way to beat shrinking feed-in tariffs‘plan-for-the-future’/7914736?section=environment By Kathryn Diss  Retirees in the West Australian town of Busselton are trialling a new system which allows them to sell excess energy they have generated from their solar panels direct to their neighbours.

The system bypasses the state’s energy utility Synergy, saving consumers money and increasing returns for solar adopters.

Bob and Margaret Logan got into solar early at their retirement home in the south-west town, signing up when the State Government offered a generous rebate for feeding excess energy back onto the grid.

But the scheme has since been scaled back and his lucrative contract will soon expire. “Once the contract runs out that we have currently signed, we are not sure what the future holds for that contract if anything or if we go to the 7 cents rate,” Mr Logan said.

Under new Synergy contracts, solar panel owners are paid much less, with households only getting back a third of the amount the utility receives for selling the power on to other consumers.

However Perth-based company Power Ledger created a way to undercut the utility, enabling solar panel owners to sell their excess power to their neighbours for less than the utility charges.

The company is trialling the technology at a National Lifestyle Villages complex in Busselton, where all of the homes are linked via one network connection like in a strata complex.

If the trial is successful, the system could be rolled out within months, with interstate and global interest having been shown already and Auckland signing up for a big project to start early next year.

Scheme benefits owners and consumers

Mr Logan said the system would provide him with an economic alternative to make money off his panels when his contract runs out.

“At least with this, we do have something we can plan for the future,” he said.

“We’re already hooked up with this gear, so we know once the trading scheme starts at least we can get something for it.”

It is also beneficial for his neighbour Des Clarke down the road, who does not have panels but is keen to cut costs.

The actual expenses for pensioners are increasing all the time and the income coming in is decreasing. There’s only so much money to share around through the welfare system,” he said.

“I do tend to be more conscious of where the expenses are going.”

Under the system, a solar panel owner will sell their excess power for 20 cents a kilowatt per hour, more than double what Synergy would pay for it.

They will pocket 15 cents, with the remaining 5 cents divided between Power Ledger and Western Power, to pay for its poles and wires.

Paying for solar with blockchain technology

Power Ledger managing director David Martin said it was a win-win and also helped maintain the network grid, which was essential for households which could not afford solar technology. “That spiralling up of network charges, that falls to people who are still connected to the network and can’t afford to pay for PV (Photovoltaics) and batteries themselves,” he said.

“We’re avoiding that because they’re able to participate despite not being able to afford putting PV on their roof.”

Excess power generated still goes back into the same electricity grid and consumers still get their energy from the same network, however the system is able to calculate who to charge for the power and who to pay.

Mr Martin said it operated using blockchain technology.

“Peer-to-peer trading technology works by matching consumers’ output to the network with consumer demand from the network,” he said.

“So if we’re operating on the same blockchain peer-to-peer trading platform and you’ve got PV on your roof, the excess you kick into the network is matched to my demand from the network … and I pay you for the energy I’ve bought from your roof.”

October 10, 2016 - Posted by | solar, Western Australia

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