Australian consortium aims to put digital solar marketplace into practice
Homeowners in Australia will soon be able to trade in and sell electricity generated by rooftop solar panels with batteries in a digital marketplace developed by a consortium of tech startups, energy agencies, retailers and electricity providers.
The Distributed Energy Exchange (deX) was launched on Thursday with the mission to fundamentally change how energy is produced, traded and consumed locally throughout Australia. It has the potential to develop into a trial of a distributed energy model, which moves away from the traditional centralised form of power, which is reliant upon large-scale power plants.
Australia seems like a good place to start as well, uptake of rooftop solar is amongst the highest in the world with more than 1.5 million homes fitted with panels, and battery storage isn’t far behind either.
The introduction of deX reflects a mindset shift, where households and buildings are not perceived only as energy consumers, but as active participants on a distributed grid. It aims to act like traffic lights controlling the flow of power according to where the needs are and reporting overloads and shortages in an automated way that allows for technical and financial exchange between grid participants. Need “network power plants” like deX require a tiny building cost compared with a fossil-fuel based plant and own a significant advantage in terms of their flexibility and ability to be responsive to energy demands.
The technology and concept will be tested out in two pilot projects in the ACT and on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, each involving around 5,000 households.
Currently, rooftoop solar represents 16% of renewable energy generation in Australia, but the latest projections expect it to hit closer to 50% within the next couple of decades, partly because of developments like deX.