Energy insiders know all too well that the industry is under transformation. We’ve been producing energy by centrally located fossil-fuel power plants and distributing it to home and businesses for over 100 years, but things are changing. The growth in solar and other renewable energy options is moving us to a decentralised energy model where energy consumers will be in greater control.
And for many of us, the future is already here. A growing number of households and businesses are generating their own energy via rooftop solar power system. They’re driven by the need to decrease power costs and by a desire to reduce their burden on the environment.
Energy sharing initiatives are also on the rise with several retailers introducing demand response programs that enable local energy generators to financially benefit from their excess power. The new world is an exciting one!
But unless you are an ‘energy insider’ the path to your own energy transformation – or gaining control of your energy ecosystem and capitalising your excess energy – may not be a clear one. In this article, we discuss the energy transformation journey from a traditional energy consumer to a sophisticated consumer/generator that’s fully in control.
Your own journey might be different, you might start at a different point or skip steps. Our steps should be used as a broad guide.
Most energy users – whether households or businesses – have a simple and passive approach to their energy use. They receive regular bills, often sigh at the ever-increasing cost but pay the invoice anyway. They might switch providers from time to time and attempt to reduce consumption, but apart from switching off lights in empty rooms, they are often stuck for effective energy reduction strategies.
If this is you, consider investing in an energy management system to help you understand how and when you use electricity and the impact of making a behavioural change. For example, if you have an electric hot water unit, you’ll be able to see the significant amount of power it’s drawing and the potential savings of reducing its ‘run time’.
An energy management system with control capability – such as carbonTRACK – will also let you bring these savings to life by automatically switching the hot water unit on and off at a predetermined time that aligns with your lifestyle.
If you already know you could be doing things better, go straight to Step 2.
Growing energy bills, becoming aware of energy usage patterns and concern for the environment are all catalysts for consumers seeking greater control of their energy. And investing in a solar power system is one of the best ways to take a step closer to energy freedom. By doing so, you’re not only an energy consumer, you are becoming an energy generator!
If you’re ready to make an investment in solar it is important to do your homework. Make sure you look for organisations with a proven track record and sound customer reviews. Often government bodies or industry associations can make this decision easier for you. For example, some of the solar rebates available in Australia today are limited to solar companies accredited by the Clean Energy Council.
Speak to your solar provider about including an energy management system with your solution and ensure that it includes system monitoring and control capability. More on that below.
Solar energy is best used when it is produced. While most solar power systems will show you the energy being generated in close to real-time, unless you are home to switch on your appliances when the sun is up, chances are that a significant proportion of the energy you generate is going to waste. To compound the problem, solar exports are often limited, and the prices paid by network managers are on the decline.
Gaining control of your energy ecosystem – which now includes your solar and your various appliances/equipment - is the key to maximising the value of your solar investment. The right energy management solution will enable you schedule your appliances to make the most of the solar energy you generate.
This can be as simple as switching your pool pump remotely or setting your preferences and letting the system switch appliances on and off in line with your priorities.
Battery prices may be declining but a solar storage solution is still a considerable investment – often outweighing the purchase price of the original solar solution. If you don’t need a battery to support an ‘off-grid’ lifestyle, the decision to purchase one is likely to be financial. But each battery business case is different.
Such an investment may make sense for you if you’re already close to optimising your daytime solar umbrella and would like to further reduce your reliance on the grid – particularly if you’re bound by particularly high Time of Use (ToU) grid access rates during certain periods.
The battery business case maybe even more compelling for businesses that experience peak demand energy rates. A fully controlled energy ecosystem which includes solar, battery storage and an advanced energy control capability can help you avoid these penalties.
Speak to your solar equipment provider or energy consultant to help you understand your potential battery ROI.
With every new residential or commercial solar installation, a new energy generator is entering the market. With an increasing volume of energy being produced locally, energy sharing initiatives – among neighbours, closely located businesses and the broader community - are also on the rise.
These initiatives may be run by solar service providers, energy retailers or other network managers and described as micro-grids, embedded networks or virtual power plants. While most are not yet mainstream, there are more pockets of energy innovation sprouting up every day. And many are doing so using carbonTRACK technology.
Home and businesses equipped with solar, batteries and the right energy management solutions are ready to participate in the energy sharing future.
If you’d like to explore this today, look for an energy retailer offering demand response programs where they reward energy consumers who reduce their usage during times of peak demand. This is available to many consumers today.
The transformation taking place in the energy industry is bringing positive change for energy consumers. Affordable solar technologies and energy management capabilities are turning traditional energy consumers into energy generators and putting them in control.
If you need help in starting or progressing your energy transformation journey, speak with your solar equipment provider, energy consultant or contact us and we can put you in touch with one in your area.