Selling Energy Door-to-Door

How energy is sold is changing, with some communities establishing a peer-to-peer microgrid for renewable energy.

 

Consumers are all about supporting local farmers and local shops, and now they have a way to support local energy, too.

TransActive Grid, a New York-based startup is delivering the first peer-to-peer paid transaction of energy in the United States. The company is creating a ‘microgrid’ where residents can buy and sell renewable energy within their own community energy market. The first proof of concept for the new microgrid included computer-controlled energy measurement systems installed in private homes and linked in a way that allows people to create, buy and sell energy to each other.

“This is a necessary evolution to the energy markets,” said TransActive Grid co-founder Lawrence Orsini. “People want more choice in where and who they get energy from, and buying energy from neighbors in your community will soon be the best way to do it.”

By using blockchain technology (originally created to run the Bitcoin currency) TransActive Grid makes it possible to count up and log every unit of energy created by one of these home systems. Special software called ‘Smart Contracts’ make those units of energy available on the open market to be bought and sold in the local community, with the transactions going through PayPal.

Users can define their energy requirements—choosing exactly where they buy from—or, even automating the process through a hands-off self-securing control system.

Orsini says microgrids are only possible in the U.S. now because of changes in policy and the engagement of the utility companies which see their place in the future of distributed energy. And, once rolled out on a bigger scale, the concept could radically change how energy is bought and sold, he said.

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