A new project in New York City is letting residents buy and sell renewable energy to each other, bypassing the central authority and the associated costs. Could this be the future of distributed energy? If so, what are the impediments?
Who will maintain the wires or distribution between buildings? That should be the job of the utility distribution company and can be competitively bid by cities or counties. It can also be managed by the municipal utility as is currently done in many cities already. But, for pricing to be truly transparent, they should not own any generation. Energy supply should be on the open market and priced competitively with full effects priced into the product. For example, many states have outlawed smoking in public places. Power generation should not be exempted. Any waste or emission should be the responsibility of the generator. In other words, no smoking allowed…
When will renewable energy be as reliable as we have come to expect from fossil fuels? In some cases it already is, even at the granular rooftop level. In very sunny climates, solar is very consistent. With automatic load management and limited storage, it’s sufficient enough to be off grid altogether. Perhaps a better question is, “Does solar really need to be as reliable as fossil fuel power plants?” As more and more devices become unplugged, like project FreeCharge is doing, communities are realizing that the in many ways, distributed solar power is more reliable and resilient than central station fossil-fueled power plants. Just ask the residents of New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy.
Read more about peer-to-peer energy transactions.