AGL trials solar power trading platform in Victoria

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Australia’s biggest power producer has developed its own solar power trading platform, looking to give customers more control over their energy bills, while maximizing the value of their solar systems and batteries.

The AGL Solar Exchange platform is an online marketplace where solar tokens representing solar energy are traded among customers, making it possible for people without solar systems to benefit from other people’s installations.

“In addition to exporting surplus energy to the grid at their feed-in tariff (FiT), households that use less solar energy than they produce can sell tokens to family, friends and members of the community who don’t have solar panels,” AGL General Manager Energy Management Nick Ruddock explained.

“They can sell the tokens for more than their FiT to maximise the savings on their electricity bills or sell for less than their FiT to help others save on their bills.”

The trial kicked off in August with 220 AGL customers in Victoria on board. The number of tokens households can buy depends on how much electricity they use, as measured by their digital meters.

“Under the right conditions, a buyer could buy tokens at a lower price than buying energy from the grid, while a household with solar could sell excess solar tokens at a higher price than the solar FiT, and these trades would ultimately be reflected in the customer’s electricity bill,” Ruddock said.

To participate in the trial, households must have digital meters and be AGL electricity customers. The platform is available on desktop, tablet, and smartphone devices.

“In this trial, currently the largest of its kind in Australia, buyers and sellers choose personalised settings for trading tokens on the AGL Solar Exchange platform, which matches buyers with sellers to complete compatible trades,” Ruddock said.

While it is looking to optimize the use of solar arrays among its customers, AGL has closed its residential solar business, describing it as “non-core“. Earlier this year, the company made a decision to no longer install solar panels on homes, which has brought with it a $47 million loss.   

AGL’s has already shown keen interest in innovative solar trading programs. Last May, the company started testing a blockchain-based peer-to-peer solar trading program with the goal to enable households with a mix of solar panels, batteries and ‘smart’ air conditioning to trade or share excess electricity they generate.

Overall, there have been various moves in Australia to use blockchain technology in P2P solar electricity trading.

Perth-based Power Ledger already has a number of such projects under its belt in on the home turf and abroad – Japan, Thailand and the U.S. The company’s first commercial deployment of a P2P energy trading platform in Australia was launched together with Greenwood Solutions in Melbourne and was followed by as Yolk’s Evermore apartment development at White Gum Valley in partnership with Western Power and Curtin University. 

Last month, the much-anticipated Decentralized Energy Exchange (deX) project by Melbourne-based energy tech startup GreenSync was officially launched, as a digital marketplace for ancillary grid services provided by rooftop solar arrays, battery storage and EVs owned by Australian homes and businesses.