These new jargon words pop up from time to time. They interest me in two ways, firstly they are a demonstration of the development of the English language. Purists may complain yet our language is changing all the time, new words popup and new meanings are attached to words that have been around forever. Secondly they can offer an insight into a world that you don’t occupy, a parallel universe that operates in the same time and space as you but which you have no real knowledge of.
This is what has happened with me and the word prosumer.
It is the fashion these days to merge two words together to create a third, with a meaning that usually lies in between. Bromance, the close relationship between two heterosexual men and coatigan, a long cardi along the lines of a Starsky cardi if you are old enough to remember, are just two examples.
A prosumer is a person or a business that both consumes and produces energy. A small factory unit with a wind turbine on its roof could be an example. At times it will draw energy from the grid to meet its needs whilst at others it may donate energy back into the grid.
This is a word that we are going to here more and more of as the world grapples to reduce the effect of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. Property will become more efficient, with close to 100% heat retention and there will be a flourishing market in energy trading. We mustn’t restrict ourselves only to property however. Prosumerism will affect everything that we do.
The clever part is the software that is being developed to decide what is most economical. Is it better to charge your car from the grid or use what is left in your battery to sell back? Is it better to sell excess energy generated by your house or save it in some sort of battery or sink for when prices will improve, demand is higher or your need is greater?
There is a whole myriad of companies and people working on these ideas. As generation becomes cheaper and software becomes more clever there seems to be no limit to the possibilities for the prosumer.
Our energy usage in future will be much different from the current big and dirty power stations and will move to smaller, more local generation. We will all eventually become prosumers.