“Local markets are the future”, says Open Utility after peer-to-peer energy trial

Tech company Open Utility have finished a six‐month trial of an online peer‐to‐peer marketplace for renewable energy, which allowed consumers and generators to buy and sell renewable energy directly.

The trial was a collaboration between energy startup Open Utility and green energy provider Good Energy, with funding from Nominet Trust and The Energy Entrepreneurs Fund scheme run by The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The marketplace, called Piclo, took in all the price and preference information and matched electricity demand and supply every half an hour. Good Energy ensured that the marketplace was always balanced by purchasing surplus power or providing renewable top‐up when required. Some generators, like the community-owned turbines at Gorran in Cornwall, supplied almost 100 per cent of their electricity within 33 miles.

Open Utility has now developed a change proposal for the Ofgem-regulated Distribution Network Operator (DNO) charging methodology, intended to save generators and consumers money by pinpointing exactly how much of the local network they have used.

James Johnston, Open Utility CEO and co‐founder said: “Open Utility believe peer‐to‐peer local energy matching could unlock billions of pounds of additional revenue for renewable generation technologies in Great Britain and overseas, heralding an age of decentralised and clean electricity. And now, following the release of our six‐month trial we are in a perfect position to maximise the benefit from the smart meter rollout to 30 million households and businesses across Wales, Scotland and England by the end of 2020, alongside the recognition by Ofgem that it is in consumers’ interests to be settled against their half‐hourly consumption data.”

Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust said: “At Nominet Trust, we’re passionate about the potential of the internet and digital technology as a force for social good… We’re now thrilled to see the results of the Piclo trial and its potential to unlock value in local energy markets.”

Juliet Davenport, Good Energy CEO and founder said: “Good Energy’s vision is of an energy system where control is in the hands of people, harnessing the awesome power of the UK’s natural resources, and electricity is generated by the communities who use it. The Piclo trial has provided a glimpse of what a future powered purely by renewables could look like, with everything from rooftop solar to community wind turbines playing a role”.

The trial generator participants included community energy groups, private developers, family‐owned and charity sites – City of Cardiff Council, National Trust, Westmill Solar, Community Power Cornwall, Brixton Energy. Consumers included sustainable businesses, charities and a co‐housing association ‐ Eden Project, Watergate Bay Hotel, Lancaster Co‐Housing, Benson Signs and BDP.

Read the full report: A glimpse into the future of Britain’s energy economy

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