Energise Barnsley – P2P Trading

Energise Barnsley (EB) would like the local distribution network to become a local trading platform for our low carbon generated solar PV electricity.

EB, and its partner organisations, are exporting approximately 800 MW (mega watt hours) of electricity per annum, back to the centralized grid and receiving a low tariff (circa 5p) in return. Our vision is for our neighbors to purchase the excess solar generation at an agreed discount to market rates.

Using 2016 FIT data, there is around 1 terawatt of ‘export spill’ per year across distribution networks in total.  The export spill figure would increase as more solar PV systems are installed on our residential houses. Even if smart batteries are fitted to every solar PV system, EB would like to be able to socialize the benefits of our solar PV installations to those tenants without suitable roofs.

Energise Barnsley succeeded in applying for the Ofgem Sandbox competition in 2017 to establish whether it is possible to develop a tariff or trading system to offer non-solar PV residents the ability to be able to purchase the exported energy from their neighbors systems. In our vision the DNO/DSO (Northern Powergrid) would act as balance and checking mechanism for the P2P retail energy platform.

We wanted to achieve this without become a fully licensed electricity supplier, or having to partner a specific current electricity supplier. The high costs and length of time to become a licensed supplier are prohibitive and we always want our residents to have a choice in retail supplier, which prevented being tied to one supplier’s tariff.

Policy regulation in this area of retail electricity supply is under review, with many consultations and a few innovation trials. Other countries or states already offer the ability to trade locally generated low carbon electricity.  We are trying to place a monetary value on public and grid benefits that distributed energy creates but receives no compensation for.
In this process we learnt:

  • From a legal perspective, there is nothing precluding more than one supply to a domestic property. The challenge is making it work with current metering arrangements and industry systems. The Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC – Procedure 550 – Shared Metering arrangements) does allow for shared metering, but the suppliers (2 or more) have to nominate in advance what proportion of supply they will provide.
  • Netting-off through settlement – this proposal could not be supported as the outcome would be to reduce the total supply volumes; the effect of this would be to reduce network charges and policy costs (Government’s social and environmental schemes) attributed to the participating consumers. This would mean that other consumers not participating in the scheme would end up paying more.

We have a route to trial peer-to-peer trading of our locally generated low carbon electricity, by working with Barnsley Council on their ‘white label’ energy supplier. As the cost of residential smart batteries fall there might be a model to also supply batteries free of charge to residents, as the UK flexibility market evolves.

However, a cost/benefit exercise of proceeding down the proposed route available to us, leaves the Society with a wait and see approach.

Some of the current P2P innovation trials might produce a retail self generation and consumption model which socializes the benefits of local low carbon electricity, and produce the necessary regulatory change to allow community energy groups to engage further on the P2P trading platform journey.

In 2022 we are starting to see the first energy platforms attempting to enable local buying and selling of electricity. However, the means to be able to do this, are through supply exemption routes, which can not be scaled. When transmission costs can be carved out of local self generated electricity trading we will be able to secure these revenue streams for our social housing decarbonisation model. To enable this, there will have to be a policy change as all transmission costs have to be socialised across the network at present.