A trial programme in South Australia, which uses the technology that underpins the ‘bitcoin’ virtual currency, allows owners of residential solar power systems to trade their excess power with their neighbours.

Using a ‘blockchain’ database, which facilitates secure payment, 10 households at the National Lifestyle Villages housing development in Perth can trade, sell or give solar power ‘units’ to other participating households during the eight-week trial.

Perth startup Power Ledger is behind the project, in co-operation with Australian blockchain firm Ledger Assets. Power Ledger said the two companies aim to conduct further trials aimed at devising business models for peer-to-peer energy trading.

A second trial set for next year will include about 80 households, some with battery energy storage systems.

Power Ledger’s chair Jemma Green (pictured, right) called the project ‘a win for the people who have been able to afford to invest in rooftop solar, but also a win for customers who haven’t.

‘The benefits of distributed renewable energy will flow on to those who, at the moment, can least afford to participate; we think that’s pretty special,’ she added.