How a WA startup can reduce your electricity bill
If you rent or live in an apartment or a share house, you probably don’t have access to renewable energy options, like solar.
There are a whole heap of reasons why this is the case. If you don’t own your house, you aren’t likely to invest in installing expensive panels on the roof. Likewise, apartment dwellers don’t really have an easy place to put panels. Not to mention, strata companies have little incentive to install panels for residents.
With nearly 30% of Australians renting in 2016, the end result is a significant chunk of the population without the ability to shift to clean energy, in turn, stifling the uptake of renewable energy across the country, which hurts us all.
But fear not, WA’s got this.
Peer-to-peer power sharing
Enter Power Ledger, a WA start-up that is solving this problem by enabling peer-to-peer (P2P) electricity sharing. And they just raised $34 million with their ICO (initial coin offering) back in October, so it’s kind of a big deal.
Imagine sharing electricity in the same way.
As Dr Jemma Green, Power Ledger co-founder and Chair told me, their technology “enables peer-to-peer trading of electricity and fractionalises ownership of energy assets … [which means] counterparties that are both big and small can transact with each other without needing an intermediary”.
Say you have extra power generated from all the solar panels on your roof. With Power Ledger, you can now sell it to your neighbours living in a solar-deprived apartment building who would not otherwise have access to clean energy. It also means you can get paid right way, rather than waiting up to 3 months, which is the case if you were to sell back to the grid through Western Power, as Jemma explained to me.
Power Ledger enables those with solar panels to sell their excess clean energy to their neighbours in real time and get paid straight away.
Power Ledger and blockchain
Now here’s where things get really interesting. The technology Power Ledger is built on that enables all this fanciness is the same technology behind everyone’s favourite cryptocurrency, bitcoin.
That technology is called blockchain. As I have written previously, bitcoin is simply the most popular use of blockchain.
In the same way that people can trade currency with bitcoin without needing a bank, blockchain enables the trading of electricity without a power company.
And just like P2P filesharing, blockchain takes care of all the details of the transaction. Everything happens securely and automatically, without needing anyone in between or any other kind of management.
Power Ledger in your neighbourhood
As Jemma shared with me, Power Ledger’s mission “is the democratisation of power and the creation of resilient low-cost and low-carbon distributed energy markets”.
To this end, the company’s focus moving forward is building out and upon the applications of their platform. This means immediate, real-world action. Working with the City of Fremantle, Jemma told me, Power Ledger’s technology will be used in three new housing developments: SHAC (Shared Housing for Artists and Creatives), Yolk and Gen Y.
So, if you live in and around Fremantle, this means you could be getting blockchain-enabled clean electricity. The future is now.