Solar households in Victoria now have the opportunity to trade their excess solar generation locally, selling it direct to neighbouring households rather than back to grid, with the launch of a new product from upstart online retailer Powershop.
The new product, called Your Neighbourhood Solar, was launched to Victorian Powershop customers on Tuesday as the first in a series of peer-to-peer products the NZ-owned company is developing to cater to “Australia’s new energy future.”
It comes off the back of a “hugely successful trial”, conducted through Powershop customers on Melbourne’s CitiPower network, which kicked off in August.
The Powershop trial is just one of several being conducted around Australia, testing the waters – and the regulatory policy limits – on various versions of peer-to-peer renewable energy trading.
The idea of solar households being able to sell their rooftop PV generation to local friends and neighbours instead of back to the grid for a pittance is becoming increasingly popular, particularly among those who argue solar households are not adequately rewarded for the benefits their distributed clean energy bring to the networks, to non-solar consumers via reduced wholesale electricity costs, and to the broader environment.
Powershop’s newly public offer – which marks a first in Australia’s retail space – will work by taking the excess solar of Powershop customers and putting it back into their local energy distribution area. The retailer then buys this excess solar energy and sells it to other customers in the energy distribution area that have bought a Your Neighbourhood Solar Powerpack.
Customers who buy a Solar Powerpack pay a 4c/kWh premium, which is pooled together and redistributed to Powershop solar customers in the distribution area.
Powershop solar customers then receive a credit on their bill for the extra solar energy they generate, in addition to Powershop’s feed-in tariff which – as the company points out – at 7.2c/kWh is already substantially above the mandated minimum in Victoria of 5c/kWh.
According to the company, customers in the CitiPower distribution area who generated solar power during the trial effectively earned a FiT 48 per cent higher than Powershop’s regular FiT.
The neighbours buying the solar powerpacks, meanwhile, spent on average an extra $9.40 on their bill over the month, which works out slightly cheaper than Powershot’s GreenPower pack.
Ultimately, the idea is to benefit both customers who perhaps can’t install solar, but would like to, or would like to support those who do, as well as customers with solar who are looking to get a better deal for their exports.
“So you’ll not only be helping to reward people for their investment in solar, but you’ll also show there’s a demand for it,” Powershop explained for the trial.
Obviously, the offer struck a chord with customers, as according to Powershop CEO Ed McManus, the 100,000 trial Powerpacks sold out in 48 hours.
“So now we’re making this product widely available to our Victorian customers,” McManus said. “We know people want to be able to use renewable energy if they can. We surveyed all customers who purchased a Your Neighbourhood Solar Powerpack and found 89 per cent of people purchased the packs because they wanted to support those with solar and 71 per cent of people said they would buy the product regularly.
“This is a genuine community project and our first step in demonstrating the value of peer-to-peer energy trading.”