August 2018 saw Power Ledger (POWR) launch on Australian exchanges. Power Ledger is a renewable energy trading platform, allowing Australian residences who generate surplus renewable energy to trade it via the blockchain-based peer-to-peer network, setting their own prices for it as they do.
It also provides for energy companies to create their own energy systems. Following an earlier trial in Fremantle, Western Australia, it was announced that the Ledger was en route to the East Coast for its first commercial deployment in Melbourne. This news comes at a exceptional time for the Australian energy industry.
Many Australians across the nation are feeling pocket pressure as cost of living soars. In many respects this is not unique to Australia, with similar trends being seen in other countries around the world. Yet the 63 percent increase in electricity prices between 2007 and 2017 has transformed energy costs into a hot button political issue.
Electricity companies have been the target of criticism from politicians, the media, and the general public alike, with some even going so far as to allege price gouging and collusion lurking behind the rising bills nationwide.
The electricity issue is set against a broader energy and sustainability debate. While in other nations, a ‘climate consensus’ has emerged across the political aisle, there remains at present a deep divide in Australia between groups seeking a substantive shift towards sustainable targets and alternative energy, and those seeking a far more conservative change.
The impact of the sustainability debate has delivered immense political consequences. Before 2010, Australia had seen a change of prime minister just 2 times since 1992. Since 2010, there have been 5 changes of leadership in the nation’s highest office.
Hot button issues in Canberra
An inability to achieve a consensus approach to sustainability policy in their parties and the Parliament, was a key element of the end to the prime ministership of Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd in June 2010, and Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull on August 24. It has also at times been an undercurrent in leadership changes among the Opposition, destabilizing party leaders whether they are in government or out of it.
While a majority of Australians have previously supported strong action on climate change — and evidence suggesting this has only grown — the inability of leaders from both major parties to achieve real progress here is a stinging indictment of the political class in Canberra.
Alternative energy, alternative leaders
For all its virtues, Power Ledger is not expected to be the savior of all things energy, nor is it appropriate to expect such sweeping transformation from anyone. Many Australians right now wish see a mandate toward green tech and sustainability from Canberra, and greater leadership full stop. Emerging technology in the private sector can certainly help the country’s energy woes, but real change must come from elected officials.
Nonetheless, Power Ledger is a compelling innovation on the energy trading platform. It could bring about some real cost relief to many Australians presently weary of high energy prices that refuse to decrease.