Saskatchewan

Going green to make green: Selling renewable energy in Sask. a future possibility

Samira Sadaoui, a professor of computer science, is working on a method that would allow people to sell their green energy to a service provider, such as SaskPower.

Method being developed at U of R that would allow people to sell green energy to providers at peak hours

A power provider could buy energy from a variety of sources, such as people using solar panels, wind or even energy stored in the battery of an electric vehicle, using the auction being developed at the University of Regina. (Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

An online auction method is being developed at the University of Regina that would encourage people to produce green energy.

Samira Sadaoui, a professor of computer science, is working on a method that would allow people to sell their green energy to a service provider, such as SaskPower.

The idea is that during peak hours, when a power grid is seeing high use, a provider could organize an auction to buy energy from people to supplement its grid. Ideally, this would avoid blackouts and put money in the pockets of residents. 

The provider could buy renewable energy from a variety of sources such as wind, solar, hydro or even the energy stored in the battery of someone's electric vehicle. 

Sadaoui said John McKenzie, director of strategic development for SaskPower, approached her to develop an online auction idea to meet the province's high power demand during peak hours. 

Buying and selling

The bidding would see the energy provider buy power from a combination of sellers in 15-minute increments to maximize the amount of energy for the lowest cost. 

Sadaoui explained the process is broken down into three phases:

  • Trading requirements, as in just how much energy is needed and the set price of the energy.
  • Bidding, which would see the power supplier compete on prices and the amount of energy provided.
  • The winner or winners would be determined in the last phase, where the buyer would buy energy from a combination of sellers.

For example, if power was needed for two hours, then it could be purchased from eight different suppliers offering up their 15 minutes of energy. 

The specifications would ideally ensure big wind farms couldn't undercut someone looking to make some extra cash from the solar panels on their home, for instance.

Hurdles remaining

New regulations and policies would need to be in place before a system such as this could be implemented, Sadaoui said. 

In addition, smart meters would need to be installed throughout the province. 

The auction would be held using developed software, such as an app, if it were to go ahead. 

"On the consumer side, this is a very easy bidding process," Sadaoui said.

A spokesperson for SaskPower said it is something that could be considered in the future. Before that would happen, software rights would need to be acquired.

With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition

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