Nick and Nicole Jansen set out to install a typical 5 kilowatt hour solar panel system when they built their new house in Northcote, in Melbourne's inner north-east, last year.
But their builder encouraged them to go large. They would have plenty of corrugated iron roof, he pointed out, so why not bolt on 15kWh-worth – or 60 solar panels?
The Jansens agreed, but with recent sunny weather they found they were producing as much as 70kWh of solar power a day and selling a lot of it back to the grid at the modest feed-in tariff of 7.2¢ per kilowatt hour.
So when their retailer Powershop invited them to join a trial six weeks ago and sell their surplus.
In doing so the Jansens joined a new front in the revolution challenging major energy companies – "peer-to-peer" trading of solar power.
"It was very simple. It was basically an app-based invitation," said Jansen, an anaesthetist at Royal Melbourne Hospital. "I thought, 'yeah, that sounds like a great idea'."
Powershop estimated its solar customers across Melbourne generated about 100,000kWh of surplus solar power in six weeks, so it offered it to other customers – largely people without solar power and relying on the regular grid – at the start of the trial.
Even though they would pay 4¢ more than Powershop's regular tariff for grid power, they snapped up the 100,000kWh in 48 hours. On Wednesday the company launched the service – dubbed "Your Neighbourhood Solar" – commercially.
The result was a resounding validation of three planks of the energy revolution. First, there's a hunger for solar power. Secondly, the appeal of neighbour-to-neighbour trading of solar power is real.
Thirdly, it's a threat to energy distributors and retailers like AGL Energy, Origin Energy and Energy Australia, who also need to offer such "behind the meter" services to offset declining demand for grid power – but have to tread more carefully.
If you want to read this article in Japanese, please see the following link: