In addition to actively managing their personal energy use, an obvious demand for an energy prosumer is to be able to trade energy much as utilities do at wholesale level according to the demand and supply and the associated prices. The challenge is the mechanism to do this, given the potentially large numbers of traders and relatively small levels of energy involved. UK startup Open Utility has come up with a solution which is now being implemented through renewable supplier Good Energy to business consumers. [Peer-to-peer energy trading pioneers in Britain] The Piclo platform employs a matching algorithm which matches users and generators based primarily on proximity. Both parties have visibility on the other and buyers also have an “increase matching” ability if they prefer a particular renewable energy supply. Next step for consumers, alongside the rollout of smart meters.
Alongside trading energy management in the home is another challenge for developers to meet. In Australia a startup Evergen has gained the technical backing of the national research organization CSIRO to bring to market a system which constantly monitors and optimizes the consumption. [Australia’s homes just got smarter] Based on the weather and other factors the system will for example switch from solar to storage as needed. Given the large number of rooftop PV systems in Australia this may just be the solution to ignite what so far has been a sluggish market compared with others.
A promise of the smart grid is the opportunity to create self-healing grids that are able to perform near real-time isolation and restoration of power outages. And now the technology is at a point where it can be implemented virtually off-the-shelf. [North American utilities pioneer self-healing grids] Indeed, the technology itself consists of just a few components – breakers and reclosers – but the key is how they are all configured along with the underlying software. Typical restoration times are within 60 seconds. At a large North American utility implementation currently under way, in a year more than 69.1 million customer minutes of interruption had been saved.
As any homeowner with a garden knows, it generally grows fast and there can be a lot of it about – grass, that is, and it’s not always that easy to dispose of. But that may be a thing of the past with a novel development in the US, which pelletizes grass in a form suitable to use for home heating. [Grass-the next biofuel home heating market?] The pelletizer is sufficiently costly that few individuals are likely to want to purchase it but it could make a good opportunity for an entrepreneur or for a community initiative.
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