This is truer than ever for the energy marketplace.
It’s hard for us to imagine what life was like before machines and factories: when every piece of clothing was made by hand and food was grown in our own backyards or bought at the local market. But once upon a time, this was the norm. We knew what was in our food and who made our clothing.
Throughout time, however, the need to have things quickly and conveniently took over. Franchises and supermarket giants took over and it’s easy to see why. You could buy all your groceries in the one place: meat, bread, fruit and vegetables, toiletries and common household items. It was a more efficient way to shop.
The free (farmer’s) market economy
History has shown that as society becomes accustomed to a new way of being, something new enters the market, but often we revert back to a new version of old concepts. The perfect illustration of this is the rise of the farmer’s market.
Farmer’s markets – typically small markets held in public places like schools and local halls – enable producers to sell directly to the public. This allows consumers to cut their food miles by buying locally and to have face-to-face contact with producers, much like what occurred pre-mass production. And they’re not small business, either.
Australian farmer’s markets have “grown progressively” in recent years, and there are now more than 160 farmer’s markets nationally. In Victoria alone, they contribute $227 million to the economy annually.
Bringing it even closer to home, the rise of home production – backyard vegie patches, beehives and small-batch preserves – has seen the rise of community food swap programs. This takes cash out of the equation completely and relies on bartering and exchange. Have too much cauliflower? Swap it for some blackberry jam. Food swap networks are on the rise internationally.
As we turn away from mass-produced consumables, like food, we’re also increasingly turning away from energy handed down from power lines.
The power to produce
Electricity production has always been the realm of corporations, the big power companies who have the technology and the expertise to create energy safely and effectively.
But reduced solar system costs mean the capacity to create energy is becoming ever more achievable.
If you have solar panels on your roof, you are a producer. Your house functions in precisely the same way as the Nyngan Solar Plant in NSW, only on a smaller scale. As your panels create energy, that energy is either consumed by your home or put back into the grid.
If you have solar batteries in your home, that energy is stored and transmitted back into your house as needed, meaning less reliance on the grid and more self-sufficiency.
The producer/consumer is a natural progression of our production economy, putting the power of production back into the hands of the individual.
Producing your own power makes your home more sustainable, and gives you better control over how energy is produced and consumed by your home.