A Canberra-based company is to introduce new technology that it says could help turn electricity markets on their head – by allowing households to buy and sell electricity on the market.
The buying and selling of electricity has hitherto been the province of large or specialised companies such as electricity retailers. But Reposit Power says that homes and businesses can and should be able to trade electricity with the help of battery storage, and production facilities such as solar panels.
Reposit Power plans to install battery storage in six homes around Canberra to run a six-month pilot of its technology, known as GridCredits. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is contributing $445,000 to the $900,000 project.
Reposit Power says GridCredits is a world-first energy storage program that will put consumers in the driving seat and will “transform the grid forever.”
Spokesman Luke Osborne says the technology will allow households to “buy low and sell high” – adding a new layer of possibilities to homes that have solar and storage. He says this will enable some households to virtually eradicate their bills and still remain connected to the grid by doing what the retailers do – maximising their earnings on the market.
“A lot of what retailers do is buying services from peaking power stations. Consumer with storage and solar panels can provide the same services themselves,” Osborne told RenewEconomy in an interview.
“What we are doing is when it makes sense – households can be a seller, and then buy electricity at a low price.”
Reposit Power is interested in using similar technology for wind farms and solar farms and for large businesses. “This is the alternative to going off-grid – households can be energy independent, at the same time as making the whole grid cleaner,” Osborne says.
“Networks should be a platform for trading and exchange of electricity, so tariffs should be structured to encourage this, not to prevent it, or that will accelerate the death spiral of the grids.
“This is about households being able to go head to head with the major companies.”
Reposit Power hopes to be able to broaden its rollout by mid next year, when this initial program is complete, and when it has convinced the Australian Energy Market Operator that households or businesses can be a “reliable source of power”, as AEMO requires.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the new technology would allow consumers to gain more value from their rooftop solar PV installations. He said that one in five houses now use solar power.
“This substantial rise has made it vital to find solutions to better manage how residential solar systems operate in our electricity grids,” Frischknecht said.
“Reposit’s GridCredits system can control and store solar energy. This gives consumers access to their own power overnight and at peak times, reducing their demand on the grid.
“It also allows energy to be sold back into the grid by placing bids into the market, turning residential properties into micro power plants.”
Frischknecht said that storage would help network operators manage demand more effectively by delivering stored power into the grid at peak times, and Reposit’s technology will also help smooth out the variable delivery of solar energy.
This in turn would allow more renewables to be connected to the grid.
Reposit Power was co-founded by energy industry veteran Dean Spaccavento and scientist Lachlan Blackhall. The company says the two “shared a vision for allowing consumers to trade their electricity while contributing to a safe and cost-effective grid.”