Traceable renewable energy on the half hour for C&I and communities – pv magazine Australia

With some of the world’s biggest energy users — such as Google — asserting that it can only truly say it’s powered by renewables if the clean energy is supplied within the hour in which the demand is met, the ante has been raised. Australian startup, Enosi entered the market last week with energy traceability tried and tested, and three retail partners demonstrating use cases to benefit corporates, communities and consumers.

Using smart metering data, Enosi traces, matches and settles energy production and consumption in 30-minute intervals.

Consumers can see how their energy is sourced over time, whether it’s from a retailer-owned renewable asset; retailer-held power purchase agreement (PPA) with a renewable generator; from general grid power; or in the case of Enova Community Energy’s shared battery, known as The Beehive Project, from a shared renewable-supporting storage asset.

Enosi’s core offering, the Powertracer platform, is “all about traceability of energy supply”, says Vincent Dwyer, Principal of Energy Estate, strategic advisors to the energy sector, and itself a renewable energy developer. The group has for the past 18 months mentored Enosi via its new incubator structure, EnergyGrowth.

“The world has moved on from high-level green-power schemes,” Dwyer told pv magazine Australia, to demanding much more granular reckoning.

A simplified explanation of Enosi’s technology is that its algorithm matches the meter data from, say, a solar farm with a customer or group of customers, and allocates that energy accordingly. The algorithm interfaces with blockchain technology only at key points in the calculation, to enable traceability without slowing the system down.

A service provider that can match every unit of energy produced by generators with every unit consumed by customers, Enosi is opening up a whole realm of new possibilities on both sides of the transaction.

The latest, most meaningful employee perk

For example, energy retailer Simply Energy, the retail arm of Engie Australia which supplies some 700,000 accounts across mainland National Electricity Market (NEM) states, has signed up to Powertracer to create Australia’s first “staff energy scheme”.

That is, businesses with solar panels installed on site and connected to the grid can offer their staff access to excess energy at a discounted rate, or for free if they like, knowing exactly how and when that energy is distributed and to whom via their accounts with Simply Energy.

In a similar application, “Powertracer is also designed to enable C&I customers to use their purchasing power to make discounted renewable energy from an identified generator available to their staff, their customers, their members and their supply chains,” said Steve Hoy, Enosi CEO, in the company’s launch statement.

Like corporate healthcare schemes, such easy access to renewable energy can engender employee loyalty, especially among staff who don’t have rooftop space to generate their own solar energy or the capital to invest in a rooftop PV system.

More low-emissions supplies in your supermarket trolley?

Another potential scenario might see a supermarket group signing a renewable-energy PPA large enough to also power its suppliers, and offer them mates’ rates — which smaller operators probably wouldn’t have the critical mass to negotiate themselves. The supermarket would not only be more likely to retain its suppliers, but would also gain greater visibility and potentially control over its Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions.

Dwyer posits another as yet untested application of the platform for electric vehicle dealerships or manufacturers: They might offer five years of free electricity to power each EV sold, where the electricity is sourced from the purchaser’s home and use can be monitored via a sub meter on the circuit that supplies the vehicle charger. 

“It would cost nothing: for a $100,000 Tesla, it would probably cost $1,000 for five years of charging,” says Dwyer. But the guarantee of easy access to verifiable renewable supply for customers who want to drive without creating emissions anywhere in their automotive ecosystem, has appeal and binds the buyer and seller in a joint commitment to positive environmental impact.

The most renewable retailers will feel the love

For energy retailers, partnering with a members-based organisation to provide firmed renewable energy offers “a second level of customer loyalty”, says Dwyer. That is, “people are not very loyal to their energy retailers; they are more loyal to their NRMA membership or their employer or community group, so they won’t churn so readily on their energy supplier”.

Retailers are crucial piece of the interaction, explains Dwyer, because they can guarantee energy on demand, whether or not renewable generators are producing in any particular half-hour timeframe, and because the transactions are still “anchored through the retail billing platform”.

For consumers, simplicity is key, “We don’t want separate billing or separate arrangements,” says Dwyer.

Retailers may also choose whether or not they provide price differentials on energy generated by legacy fossil-fuelled plants, older renewable assets that might not provide the cheapest generation, and the latest renewable assets with the technology and design to supply electricity at lowest cost.

In the first instance, some retailers will choose to use Powertracer simply to provide granular visibility over the origins of customer supply.

But the real power of Enosi’s technology is its ability to provide the price of each energy source via an app that then enables energy to be purchased from consumer-specified generators at times when their demand matches generation from the renewable source. It also calculates the actual volumes of renewable energy consumed 24/7.

“It gives consumers power,” says Dwyer, and a greater level of transparency over the price of renewables compared to fossil fuel sources.

Enabling the use of community batteries

Elsewhere on the spectrum of possibilities, Enova Community Energy is using Powertracer to enable a Hunter Valley community to get more from its rooftop solar, by accounting for storage of excess generation in a shared battery and the trading of that energy among the community as needed.

Although The Beehive Project is unique in Australia, it has much in common with the use case for Synergy’s PowerBank trial in Western Australia, but with Powertracer providing the basis for billing.

As Enosi signs more retail partners and renewable generators to the Powertracer platform over coming weeks and in 2021, it will offer a greater variety of opportunities, and intends to direct consumers to plans and use cases that best suit their needs. With this and ease of access in mind, it suggests that would-be consumer participants join the Enosi network so they can be updated on opportunities as they arise.

“When you sign up with Enosi,” the company says on its website, you can select the solar or wind generators you want to buy from. You can then see exactly when each of these suppliers deliver energy to you and how much you saved.”

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