Western Australia has launched a major – and, it claims, world- and Australia-first – residential solar trading trial that will see around 40 Fremantle households buy and sell their excess rooftop solar power with their neighbours, via the existing network and retailer.
The RENeW Nexus project, which will run until June 2019, is being led by WA’s Curtin University, with backing from the federal government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, and in partnership with Murdoch University, City of Fremantle, Landcorp, Synergy, Western Power, Water Corporation, Power Ledger, energyOS, CSIRO/Data 61 and CISCO.
In launching the project on Thursday, WA energy minister Ben Wyatt described it as an Australian first – which it may well be in terms of scale and cross-sector collaboration.
But there have been numerous similar trials of rooftop solar sharing popping up around the country, and elsewhere in the world; including this collaboration between Origin Energy and Power Ledger last year, and AGL Energy’s Solar Exchange.
In the case of RENew Nexus, lets participating households are able to decide how much they are willing to buy and sell solar energy for, and then make the purchase via a blockchain-enabled platform – presumably, that part of the project is where Power Ledger comes in.
On the network side, a fixed-use residential tariff and a new billing system has also been developed for the trial, allowing households to engage in “discrete, time-based” transactions.
“These households are believed to be the first in the world to be taking part in an active, billed, peer-to-peer trading trial that allows them to effectively buy and sell solar energy generated by their rooftop system across the grid,” Wyatt said in comments on Thursday.
“The trial represents an innovative solution to virtual energy trading that may have implications for energy utilities working to balance energy supply and demand all over the world.
“(It) is another example of how the McGowan government is embracing renewable energy technologies, and our commitment to put Western Australian consumers at the forefront of the energy technology revolution.”
That statement, debatable though it might be, comes as the WA Labor government bows to pressure to update the state’s own climate policy – in light of the fact that it was released in 2012, in the context of a national carbon price.
In a media release on Wednesday, the McGowan Labor government said its Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Climate Change Unit would co-ordinate the new policy over the next 12 months, drawing together and building on existing climate initiatives, including measures to enhance renewable energy and accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles.
The statement said the WA government acknowledged that the federal government should lead the way on climate action, but that states also had a role to play.
“Western Australia is particularly exposed to impacts from national greenhouse gas policies because of its energy-intensive, resource-based economy,” it said.
“The State is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”