Share economy to assist transition to clean energy

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A recent study from RMIT University and Monash University researchers has found energy sharing platforms may effectively assist the transition to new energy technologies, cleaner energy, and better consumer outcomes.

The findings state that Australian households are adopting new energy technologies, and are excited by the idea of platforms similar to Airbnb and Uber, which would enable them to trade and share their excess power. This would enable Australians to reduce their electricity bills, reduce their environmental impact, and help stabilise the grid, without the complicated processes which can discourage pursuing opportunities to participate in the energy market.

“People were widely enthusiastic about generating and storing their own energy, but complexity and distrust in the energy sector limited their potential as participants in an efficient electricity grid,” lead author, Dr Larissa Nicholls from the RMIT Centre for Urban Research, said.

“In the age of the sharing economy, consumers’ relationships with the electricity system are changing,” she said.

“The concept of sharing or donating energy is appealing as a response to this widespread concern for vulnerable people, who may struggle with the cost of energy or be unable to access renewable power.”

The research also found that households are already considering feeding their electricity into the grid for collective use as a form of sharing energy with other households – but they want to be confident their clean electricity benefits people who need it, rather than boosting energy company profits.

Report co-author, Associate Professor Yolande Strengers from Monash University, says householders’ relationships with the electricity grid and market are changing.

“The energy sector expects households to become active participants in the energy system – shifting and shaving their energy use and navigating a complex energy market or agreeing to more automation of their home appliances,” she said.

The research team warns that energy sharing will need to be carefully introduced.

“As has been reported in cities with high uptake of Airbnb and other sharing platforms, there is potential for some people to miss out or be disadvantaged in the sharing economy,” Nicholls said.

“Programs and platforms need to ensure that consumers are the primary beneficiaries, and rules and regulations need to address equity concerns.”

The RMIT and Monash University researchers will be releasing an engagement strategy for the sector later this year.

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