I have solar panels! The UK mandates that my electricity supplier buys the surplus energy off me. They set a minimum price, known as the SEG (Smart Export Guarantee).
My supplier - Bulb - pay me 5.38p for every kWh I export. I pay them about 13p for every kWh I import.
You notice the discrepancy? When I tweeted about this, some people got angry on my behalf. How could I stand being ripped off like this? Why couldn't I sell electricity to my neighbours at full price?
Personally, I'm quite happy with the deal. I sell the electricity at "wholesale" prices - and Bulb resell it at "retail" prices. I'm down 8p/kWh - but look at what I get in return:
- Single point of contact. I don't have to negotiate with each of my neighbours.
- Predictable prices. If another neighbour gets panels, will I have to lower my prices?
- Reduced cost. How expensive is it to buy a monitoring device, or segregate my electrical network?
- Lower chance of default. Is a large energy company more credit-worthy than a local community?
- A regulated environment. What if a neighbour disputes how much energy I've supplied?
Basically, this is the calculation that every seller makes. Trade risk for lower returns.
Would it be lovely if I could sell my organic, small batch, locally-sourced electricity directly to my neighbourhood? Sure! But the reality of me having to set up agreements with multiple parties makes it impractical.