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Uber for electricity? Expert's whacky prediction for 2020

Would you buy and sell energy with your neighbours? Source: Getty

Imagine paying your neighbour to use their spare electricity, rather than an established energy company. 

This disruption to the energy industry is something social researcher at RMIT University, Andrew Glover, predicts could be the norm in 2020. 

“Most of us are familiar with the way online trading platforms like AirBnB and Uber have disrupted established industries in recent years,” Glover said.

“The obvious question is: what’s next? Our research shows that it may be the energy industry.

“Instead of purchasing energy from an energy retailer, households may be able to buy and sell energy with other households using an online platform.”

The gig economy has well and truly buried its roots in society, particularly when it comes to transport, accommodation and delivery services, but how would it play out in the energy space?

“More and more households are installing solar panels and batteries, meaning that they are increasingly producing and storing energy, not just using it,” the researcher said.

“Households with excess energy will be able to sell it to others in their area, potentially at cheaper rates than they’d get from a traditional energy company.”

In Glover’s study, Future Grid Homes, released earlier this year, he found the concept of ‘energy sharing’ actually appealed to most households - even if they hadn’t heard of it before. 

“Households using on-site generation (in the absence of batteries) generally have little option other than to sell their surplus energy into the grid at a price set by government regulation and/or their energy retailer,” the report stated. 

“Peer-to-peer energy platforms could allow households to sell or share their surplus energy from distributed energy resources (DERs) with other households or organisations via an intermediary.

“The concept of sharing is appealing to householders as a response to widespread concern for more vulnerable others who may not be able to afford electricity or access renewable electricity in their homes,” the study found.

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