Friday and I was in Abergwyngregyn again. Aber’ is the site of one of the community hydro’s we are working with (cross fingers we get the planning permission this week) But we had convened a meeting to discuss how the community could derive more benefit from the energy they generate and also how we could buy energy at community scale. The timing was interesting what with the news full of the ever rocketing domestic energy costs. As previously blogs have alluded we have been looking for a mechanism to keep more benefit at a local level e.g. current power purchase agreement mean micro generators have to sell energy for about 5p per KWh but buy energy it in at around 15p per KWh. (there must be a way to level the playing-field)
This is a follow on from the previous blog about the many and varied ways in theory which you could buy trade and offset energy. The practice is far more complex because of licensing, balancing, spillage and various other jargon terms and unless you buy a lot of energy then you don’t really stand a chance and the ones in need at the bottom of the supply ladder such as those in fuel poverty in fact can’t get cheaper energy. (takes money to save money) There are two types of energy consumer in the UK. Those on half hour meters (the big users) and those not (domestic users). The half hour meter users can benefit from cheaper energy because the supplier knows when the user needs their energy and it is bought and billed accordingly (energy in the uk is bought and sold in half hour clips) On the domestic side the consumer takes a one size fit all energy tariff (with variations within this tariff) and the supplier has to do a lot of guess-work and move the risks/ costs on to the bills hence why domestic consumer pays more than commercial.
Half hour meters are very expensive to administer and so the domestic consumer does not have a chance to take advantage of the better rates…or so we thought. In the meeting last Fri a possibility was discussed and we started scoping the plan of the plan (its nice and complicated!) But in essence by using the new generation of domestic smart meters which just happen to record energy use every half hour we could aggregate this data at a community level and in theory purchase energy at commercial-scale and thus pass on the benefit to the individuals. this could also be the same for organisations and groups. The next step after establishing the aggregation purchase would be to ‘pool’ the community energy generation eg a hydro or pv into this aggregation. Simple in theory but very complex. Everything from developing algorithms, legal contracts through to billing. But its a win, win for all concerned. From the energy supplier perspective is makes for easier supply management, through to the consumer being able to make a more informed decision about when energy is cheaper and hopefully save money. We are now working as part of a group across the UK on what could be a really big shift in energy supply…but it has never been done before in the UK! (but ‘never been’ does not mean ‘can’t do’!)