December 13, 2022

Trading renewable energy with my EV - Maria Atkinson AM

How can EV's offer more to local energy communities? Maria Atkinson AM explores what a typical day could soon look like, using an EV alongside Powerledger technology.

The way we commute in our day-to-day lives has changed dramatically over the last century. 

The modern vehicle today is more than a mode of transportation. It is a moving form of life. It has the ability to provide sustainable energy at the time and place it is required most. Powering our home, our office, our community. It has the ability to create marketplaces which never previously existed.

One company at the forefront of this energy revolution is Powerledger. An Australian company with a vision to build community energy markets around the globe. Using their blockchain-enabled software people are able to trade their excess solar energy to their neighbours, favourite stores and anywhere around their local community. But when it comes to EV’s the opportunities to trade renewable energy is endless. The technology offers the ability to spin new energy markets. 

Before we begin the first session of the day, I’d like to take you through a short narrative - giving you a glimpse into the world we will be living within, sooner than we realize. 

In a few short years from now I will be at home getting ready for my day at work. I hop into my EV to grab a coffee at my favourite local. I suddenly realize I have been lazy and forgotten to charge my EV over the week - and I am down to just 8 km on the battery. I can still make it to the coffee shop - but I won't have enough range to get me to work.

I have no fear! I know exactly what to do. I need to get my daily long mac before 8am and range anxiety is not going to get the best of me. 

Rather conveniently the cafe is located right beside the local shopping center. So I drive there and plug my car into a fast charging station at the shops. It asks for my validation and gives me the option to either pay for the fast charge with my own money - or simply use the shopping center credit I have accrued from Powerledger.

Over the last few weeks I have been using a trading platform developed by Powerledger. The software has allowed me to trade the excess solar energy from my home to the local shopping center. The center has been offering gift cards and credit to spend at the shops, incentivising customers to sell any excess solar energy they generate at home. The management of the shopping center have their own renewable energy targets to achieve, and because they can purchase renewable energy from households cheaper than the grid, they reward customers for doing so! 

Back to my EV! As I am standing at the charging station, I decide to charge my EV simply using the credit I have accrued from my own home solar generation. It’s a fast charger and by time I’ve had my coffee and read my emails the battery is at about 80% capacity, and I can head off to work. 

My office is restricted with parking space - but you can pay a slight premium to have a bay closer to the entry. But once again - the Aussie dollar is not the currency here. The currency is kilowatts. I plug my car into the battery on the wall nearby - and offer simply half of the energy (remaining in my EV) to the battery on the wall. In doing so, I'm providing renewable energy to my workplace, in exchange for a spot right by the front door!

I go about my day just as usual and in the afternoon I get a call from a friend asking me to dinner that evening. They live about an hour from my office, so just to play it safe I decided to charge my car battery up to full once more. I go to my computer, and log into the Powerledger software. I notice that my household battery is full. The midday sun has long-since passed over and I decide to trade part of my home battery storage to my office for a nice little sum. Meanwhile I am also sending extra energy back to the charging station where my EV is, in order to recharge the battery. I’ve not lost out at all. The excess energy I generated at home was free. The energy to charge my EV was free. I was also able to make money on the energy I sold to my office. Remember, this was simply the excess energy I had stored at home, that I wasn't going to be using that evening. Instead I needed it for my car. I was able to properly match the time and place of energy generation, to the time and place I needed it the most. 

Another day in the office, I think I deserve a little reward. Passing by the local shops, I grab a cheeky bottle of red on the way to my friend's house. I hadn't bothered pulling out my purse all day, and I wasn't about to make an exception now. I simply plugged my EV into a battery at the shop and transferred a few Kilowatts in exchange for a lovely Barollo. It’s ironic really. It took the sun to grow the grapes for that wine. And that same sun, with the help of modern tech and my EV, gave me a bottle of wine - for free! Shame about the hangover the next day, but I guess you can’t have it all. 

This really goes to show that the possibilities for trading renewable energy are endless. Our EV’s really are more than just a mode of transportation - they are batteries on wheels with the ability to power our lives. The flexibility that EV’s provide, alongside new technologies that Powerledger offers, can deliver substantial benefits to the end-user whilst also contributing to a local energy market.


Maria Atkinson AM spent six years as the global head of sustainability for Lend Lease before helping with the Sydney Olympics 2000. She understands transformation at a corporate and governmental level, and is helping many clients make the shift towards distributed and decentralised energy. Until 2018 Maria was on the board of ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Maria was awarded the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2012 in recognition of her contributions to sustainable building in Australia.

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