Energy sharing, does it make sense?

  • Supply

As a BEE customer, your consumption is charged at Belpex hourly prices, and you already enjoy cheap energy prices when the sun shines (and also when the wind blows). With these dynamic energy prices, you are actually already "energy sharing with the whole market". So you are not necessarily doing an advantage with energy sharing, and because by participating in energy sharing you are stepping into a more complex system, there are additional costs involved, which may make the solution no longer interesting.

Why do people often claim that you get cheaper energy with energy sharing? Why is this (not) true?

When showing examples of energy shares, people often say that for your injection (for example) you receive only EUR 0.15/kWh, while for your offtake you pay as much as EUR 0.50/MWh. This may be true if your supplier bases the tariffs on e.g. monthly average energy prices. By engaging in energy sharing, you, the customer, buy a smaller volume at the higher offtake price.

However, it is important to know that your energy supplier on the energy market does not buy the necessary energy at monthly average energy prices, but at hourly prices. If a customer shares energy, the energy supplier has to buy proportionally more energy during the (more expensive!) hours (during which the sun does not shine and no energy is shared). So the energy supplier has a higher average purchase cost, which it obviously has to be able to pass on to the customer. The exact same applies to your injection, but in reverse.

So energy sharing causes higher average energy costs for your energy supplier. As a customer, it is best to take this into account when evaluating the business case for energy sharing.

If you are a BEE customer, your offtake is already charged based on real hourly prices. The example above works with monthly average prices, and therefore does not apply to BEE customers. BEE customers also see monthly average prices reflected on the bill, but these are based on the customer's actual consumption profile and the hourly prices at which that consumption was purchased. Energy sharing therefore ensures that you purchase less energy through BEE on hours with sun (and typically lower prices) and more on hours without sun (and typically higher prices). Again, the same applies to your injection, but vice versa.

Why are extra charges levied on customers doing energy sharing?

It was already explained above that the energy supplier has higher energy costs if a customer does energy sharing. In addition, a supplier experiences additional costs.

This is because the system operators (in Flanders this is Fluvius, in Brussels Sibelga and in Wallonia mainly Ores and Resa) have opted not to handle the volumes exchanged via energy-sharing via the normal energy market processes (Atrias and MIG6), but via systems that work in parallel with these, and then differ between the various system operators. The supplier therefore has to build or buy additional ICT systems to handle this messaging from the grid operators, as well as incurring additional operational costs.

In addition, energy suppliers have a duty to help maintain balance on the energy grid. To do so, they must purchase (on a quarterly basis!) as much energy as their customers consume, which is usually done on the "day-ahead" market, i.e. based on forecast consumption. If a supplier's portfolio is not balanced, it faces imbalance tariffs, which carry an additional imbalance cost. If a customer's entire consumption (or injection) is with one supplier, that supplier can make a good forecast and imbalance costs remain under control. If, on the other hand, a customer does energy sharing, a supplier no longer has a good view of what volume will still be taken via the supplier itself and what volume will be filled via energy sharing. Predictability drops, and therefore imbalance costs rise.

BEE chooses to pass on these extra costs transparently to the customers who cause them, so as not to have to charge higher costs to customers who do not do energy sharing.

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