New research explores peer-to-peer ‘free trade’ of excess energy

Such a market would allow consumers to directly buy from and sell to each other, without utilities or other third parties and distribute extra electricity free of charge

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A new research project is to explore the technology that is needed for peer-to-peer (P2P) “free trade” of excess energy in the UK.

That would allow households and businesses that generate their own electricity through small-scale renewables, such as solar panels and wind turbines, to distribute their extra energy free of charge if they wished to.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is providing computer scientists at the University of Bristol with a £460,000 grant for research into the P2P energy market, which would allow consumers to directly buy from and sell to each other, without utilities or other third parties.

The key aim of the Household-Supplier Energy Market (HoSEM) Project is to research the feasibility of a “democratised” P2P energy market.

It will also explore whether the infrastructure for P2P energy trading is technically feasible, what the role of the current major power producers could be in such a market, whether supply continuity can be ensured under the fluctuating generation imposed by renewable energy sources and the regulatory changes that would be necessary.

Dr Ruzanna Chitchyan, Senior Lecturer in Software Engineering who is leading the project said: “Perhaps you have installed some solar panels and you would much rather contribute your excess generation free of charge to the nearby homeless shelter instead of selling it back to the utility provider. Or sell it to someone else at a better price or give it to your neighbour.

“The households that produce the energy should have the power to decide on what to do with it. Similarly, consumers should be able to decide whose energy and at what price they want to buy. The HoSEM trading platform will support this freedom of choice.”

EDF Energy is the industrial partner in this project and is currently testing the concept of peer-to-peer trading between households as part of a trial within a block of flats in London.

Universities of Exeter and Leicester are the other partners on the HoSEM project.

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