Free market energy trading!

Posted on Aug 16, 2021
Free market energy trading!

We have a vision: local energy trading with prices set in real time by a free market. We’re excited to report that for a village in sub-Saharan Africa, we have turned our vision into a reality!

For nearly a decade we’ve been working to enable ordinary people to buy and sell energy with the same flexibility as any other good, and without outside interference in the prices negotiated. We’ve developed price-negotiating agents and taken them from economic modelling, through simulations and to moneyless live trials. And now we’re at last able to tell you that with the help of our digital agents, villagers in Rwanda can now benefit from being able to buy and sell energy in a DC microgrid, at local market prices.

Swanbarton, with partners Scene Connect, Connected Energy and Dassy Enterprise, is enabling communities to develop microgrids with small incremental investments and direct control over returns. Microgrids with a technical structure enabling organic evolution; and a commercial structure making household investment attractive. A DC microgrid controller enables a local grid to be assembled one link at a time, as the need arises. Swanbarton’s energy trading cloud platform RTTP transforms the microgrid into an attractive investment opportunity for households.

Prices in the microgrid tend naturally to rise at times when energy is locally scarce and to fall at times when energy is locally abundant. So consumers have the choice to consume energy at times when renewable generation is at its most productive, saving themselves money, and helping to ensure the continued availability of energy at times when production is lower.

For the people of the village, electricity supply is transformative, giving them access to light, communication, music, TV and mechanization. It’s great that these people’s first engagement with grid power can be with a pricing system that’s so fair, transparent and natural.

The project is supported by Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst programme.