With the increment in availability of solar panels, people who, prior to now only consumed electricity now have the ability to create and supply the same. For these people, who both consume, and produce electricity, the term, prosumer has been coined. This is a marriage of the words, producer and consumer. For communities with several prosumers, P2P energy promises to change the landscape and greatly improve how things are done.
As an analogy, consider a woman named Jane who lives in a 3-bedroom apartment and manufactures her own electricity via solar panels on the roof of her home. She is what you would refer to as a prosumer who, when she has more energy than she can consume, sells the left over to the grid. However, due to several irregularities and inefficiencies in the process of selling her surplus as well as the presence of intermediaries (middlemen), she is not making as much as she should. This means that she isn’t getting the real value of the energy she sells in cash. This is where P2P energy comes in. With this, our protagonist can sell her surplus energy directly to her neighbor without going through any intermediary or having to suffer the inefficiencies in the process. This is possible through the use of blockchain technology which acts as the intermediary and would allow Jane to make way more money than she normally would.
The use of P2P will not only provide Jane with an opportunity to make more from her surplus energy, it will also allow her neighbor to, due to the elimination of the middlemen retailers, pay lesser than she normally would. And if the neighbor is an environmentally inclined person (which we should all be), she can support the use of renewable energy by purchasing from Jane even if he/she does not have a means of self-generating energy. This contributes toward a greener environment and more efficient distribution of energy via the energy that would otherwise be lost during the transmission of energy from the power station to the consumer.
Apart from this, attempts are also being made to help connect communities and ensuring continuous provision of electricity even in periods of disaster. This is through the creation of micro-grids. As already stated, micro-grids can help navigate the choppy waters of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and the likes which are sure to lead to service disruption by negatively impacting the centralized grid infrastructure. On occasions like this, micro-grids can step in and save the day by filling the void left over by the centralized grid infrastructure and providing power for the community until things are normalized. This is especially useful in areas where natural disasters are the order of the day. This, along with the fact that they can help consumers and prosumers alike save renders this initiative attractive.
At the moment, micro-grids are but a minor part of the energy distribution infrastructure, this is, however expected to change and transform into something better interconnected and with a better distribution. This will translate to more profits for prosumers and cheaper electricity costs for consumers.