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In Europe last year, energy costs for households nearly doubled compared with 2021. In the U.S., electricity prices were up 14.3%, twice the already historic rate of overall inflation. With prices like these, it’s no wonder more and more consumers are transforming their houses into personal power plants.
There’s a name for those who produce the energy they consume through renewable sources like solar panels: prosumers, combining “consumer” and “producer”. And prosumers are a key part of a new energy landscape that’s fundamental to combatting global climate change.
What’s behind the home energy prosumer surge?
Traditionally, energy was a one-way street, with electricity flowing from centralized power plants to individual homes. Today, with renewable energy sources proliferating globally, we’re seeing a shift toward a bi-directional landscape with energy moving both to and from households. This development has major implications for the energy market, the electric grid, the environment and for prosumers themselves.
There are many reasons home energy prosumers are increasingly turning to renewable energy. Rising prices are the primary motivator, with 64% of surveyed solar customers citing cost savings as a reason to switch.
But prosumers are also increasingly motivated by energy security, noting increasing political and economic tensions and related disruptions to international supply. Put simply: as blackouts, power disruptions and sanctions grow more frequent, having the ability to produce the energy that you and your family need is crucial.
And beyond better coping with geo-political and health crises, prosumers have a key role to play in the longer-term fight against climate change. Households already contribute 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions — a figure many experts expect may rise — so it is essential we reduce the domestic consumption of fossil fuels as fast as possible yet in an intelligent manner that does not disrupt the grid or expose our critical infrastructure to cybersecurity threats. Prosumers are key to this effort.
Navigating the prosumer energy labyrinth
Any journey starts with just one step. Likewise, the journey to becoming a prosumer may start simply — with a smart thermostat, or your first electric vehicle. The most advanced prosumers are totally electrifying their lives by integrating renewables like solar, installing heat pumps, driving electric vehicles (EVs), storing electricity and selling their excess electricity. As you continue with the journey, what we’ve found is that orchestrating all these disaggregated systems is complex, yielding sub-optimal results. That’s why we developed our new Schneider Home integrated home energy management solution to ease the transition to sustainable household energy, while in parallel are building a collaborative ecosystem of technology providers.
Schneider Electric is in a unique position to deliver value to prosumers—both established and aspiring. With our combined expertise in storage, commercial and home energy management and distribution, power generation equipment, microgrid technology, digital grid solutions, EV infrastructure, and recently acquired prosumer companies, we have a unique set of the competencies required to meet current and future needs and accelerate the digital transformation of electrification.
Our intent is to help prosumers make informed choices about how they produce and consume energy. Moreover, we’re building a collaborative network of services, software and products to unravel some of the mystery and remove friction from the customer journey toward electrification.
For example, companies like EnergySage help customers understand clean energy solutions and source solar installation for their homes, while an industry-leader like Qmerit matches prosumers with electrical contractors to install and integrate EV charging into their electrification project. EV Connect serves various enterprise customers, including educational, healthcare, and hospitality organizations.
Power to the prosumers
While their numbers are rapidly increasing, not all prosumers are alike. Some generate electricity to shave off energy costs. Some become completely energy independent. And others produce more than they need, selling energy to utilities or other consumers.
You can think of it like growing vegetables in one’s garden. You could use what you’ve grown to complement what you purchase elsewhere, ensure access to a reliable food supply in case of emergency, or head to your local farmer’s market to sell to others.
The Schneider Home solution takes electrification to another level by empowering energy prosumers with control of their home energy domain. Users get granular knowledge of how every device in their house is using — and potentially abusing — electricity and they can act to maximize efficiency through smart electrical panels, backup batteries, EV chargers, smart switches, dimmers, and outlets.
With new energy technologies now in their homes and businesses, prosumers can extend their value by participating directly in energy markets. The recent addition of AutoGrid to the Schneider Electric portfolio complements the Schneider Home platform by aggregating and orchestrating millions of distributed energy resources with AI-powered software to make the grid more flexible, resilient and sustainable. This combination of hardware and solutions facilitates a seamless energy management experience for prosumers and enables them to contribute actively to the larger energy network.
Additionally, Uplight’s comprehensive solutions integrate seamlessly with utilities and enable prosumers to save on energy costs and execute seamless utility integration. Specifically, Uplight’s demand management solution helps prosumers efficiently shift energy loads during peak usage, stabilizing the grid and reducing strain on the energy network. Their Marketplace allows utility customers to purchase energy efficient products with instant rebates applied and enroll in utility-sponsored programs.
When these technologies are working in concert, they create new possibilities where individuals have the power to shape their energy landscape with unparalleled control and visibility into every facet of their energy consumption and production. More sustainable, efficient and interconnected energy ecosystem, for both prosumers and utilities alike.