Medellín Colombia Local Energy Market Trial: Demonstrating Benefits of Enabling Peer-to-Peer Trading

Grid Singularity
21 min readFeb 2, 2022


In 2021, the Transactive Energy Colombia Initiative (TECI) and Grid Singularity collaborated to introduce peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading to the Medellín pilot project, which previously operated through community trading with differentiated net billing. Local aggregator NEU connected live consumption and generation data from the Medellín pilot to the Grid Singularity Exchange via an interoperable API and different scenarios were simulated. We found that even under the current net-metering pricing scheme in Colombia, P2P trading would reduce energy bills up to 7% and improve the self-sufficiency and self-consumption values by 18.2% and 51.6%, respectively. This shortens the payback period for investing in residential photovoltaics (PV) for several low-income prosumers. While applying demand side response mechanisms reduced the participants’ energy bills, the high investment costs of residential batteries rendered it financially unviable for low-income prosumers. These results should encourage Colombian regulators to allow P2P trading, improve the choice of energy tariffs and suppliers, and enhance access to affordable renewable energy assets for low income households, in order to accelerate the adoption of local energy markets and individual contribution to energy transition.

Note: A more succinct, IEEE newsletter article on TECI-Grid Singularity collaboration has been published at


Local energy markets catalyse the energy transition by harnessing distributed energy resources with the support of digital technologies to activate and empower individual households and local communities. This article presents the results of a pioneer peer-to-peer energy trading trial in Medellín, Colombia, carried out by EIA University’s Transactive Energy Colombia Initiative (TECI) [1], Grid Singularity, open-source energy exchange developer [2], and a local digital retailer, NEU [3]. Importantly, even though the Colombian trial was already termed peer-to-peer, it has in fact been limited by regulation to a community trading scheme with differentiated net billing. In this collaboration, we assessed the impact of actual peer-to-peer trading by using live consumption and generation data to enable a direct exchange in a virtual setting (Grid Singularity canary test network) in order to demonstrate its benefits if further regulatory reform allowed direct individual participation in the energy market.

Latin America is one of the most promising regions moving towards a sustainable and renewable energy transition, considering that a significant proportion of its energy comes from renewables, particularly hydropower, which in 2019 represented more than 40% of the region’s total generation. Colombia is the fourth-biggest economy in the Latam region after Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, and, after a shy trend of adoption of non-conventional renewables, is starting to become one of the most dynamic energy markets. Wind and solar generation have increased seven-fold, going from 28.2 MW installed capacity in 2018 to 224.47 MW in 2021 and expected to reach 2,500 MW by 2022 [4]. This steep renewables uptake started in 2014 when the Colombian Congress issued Law 1715 to promote investment and integration of non-conventional renewable energy sources through incentives and tax benefits. This law led to the creation of specific regulation issued by the Colombian energy regulator. In 2015, large-scale self-generation [5] was allowed, in 2016, associated tax benefits were established, and in 2018, small-scale self-generation and distributed generation activities were regulated with a net-metering price scheme, allowing small-scale energy prosumers to exist in the Colombian energy sector [6].

Furthermore, there are relevant public policy instruments in place to guide the modernisation of the energy sector. Notably, the Colombian government’s Mission for the Energy Transformation that intends to “modernise the Colombian energy sector’s institutional and regulatory frameworks, facilitating the incorporation of new agents, technologies and transactional schemes in the energy market” [7]. In 2019, the first successful auction for large-scale renewables was held, which is expected to add around 2,250 MW of wind and solar in 2025. Additionally, in 2021, the government issued Law 2099, the Energy Transition law, which intends to strengthen the policies introduced by 2014’s Law 1715 by adding more incentives to renewables and including technologies such as blue and green hydrogen and geothermal generation. Further renewable energy auctions have been announced.

Local energy trading pilot in Medellín, Colombia

P2P (peer-to-peer) electricity trading is defined by IRENA as a business model based on an interconnected platform, serving as an online marketplace where consumers and producers “meet” to trade electricity directly, without the need for an intermediary. It allows participants to exchange their surplus energy with other participants in the community. The model grants participants enhanced access to locally produced and cleaner energy, often at a favourable rate [8].

The energy trading pilot in Medellín, as part of the Transactive Energy Colombia Initiative, is an innovative trial designed to test the application of user-centred models based on distributed energy resources and the digitalisation of the electricity sector. It consists of a virtual microgrid with thirteen participants connected by smart meters through a virtual trading app developed by NEU. The app allows participants to track their consumption, generation, and how surplus energy is allocated to other participants in the virtual market. As noted, since P2P energy trading has not yet been legally permitted in Colombia, trading between project participants does not actually take place on a peer-to-peer basis. Instead, participants sell their surplus energy to the energy retailer NEU, which in turn settles the distribution of these surpluses in its net-billing system. The diversity of market participants in terms of availability, size and location of energy assets enables effective generation and consumption of solar power within the community.

The market is operated in a regulatory-compliant way where residents pay monthly fixed tariffs determined by the energy regulators. The tariff includes generation, transmission, distribution, commercialisation, losses, and restrictions costs. Additionally, a cross-subsidy scheme adapts the tariffs based on the Colombian socioeconomic strata system. In this system, city sectors are classified by the government according to their wealth levels from one (lowest wealth level) to six (highest wealth level). Residential consumers in strata five and six are taxed to pay an additional 20% on their bill as contributions. Contributions become subsidies to consumers in strata one to three. Current regulation and welfare mechanisms do not allow these tariffs to be modified.

In 2018, the Colombian regulator introduced a net metering mechanism for small scale prosumers, defining the rules, limits, and price schemes. If a prosumer’s energy surpluses are less than the consumption from the grid each month, the grid pays the surpluses back at the standard tariff’s full price minus the retailer margin. In contrast, when a user exports more than they import, the grid pays at the hourly spot price, plus losses and restrictions, a significantly lower price than the regular tariff [6]. This means that residential photovoltaic (PV) systems are designed to provide energy below the household’s consumption, as it is more profitable to do so.

The Medellín community participants are classified as follows:

  • High-income (HI) prosumers: participants in high-consumption suburb houses in high-income neighbourhoods. They had rooftop solar before the project commenced.
  • Low-income (LI) Prosumers: participants in low-consumption houses in middle-to-low-income neighbourhoods. Rooftop solar was installed on their homes for the Project.
  • Community Centre: This is a cultural and community building located in a low-income neighbourhood. It focuses on music and art to foster community growth. Rooftop solar and a battery were installed at the community centre for the Medellín TECI project.
  • Consumers: participants in houses and apartments in middle-to-high-income neighbourhoods. Smart meters were installed in their homes for the Medellín TECI Project. As they are only consumers, they do not have generation assets.
Table 1. Medellín pilot project participants and energy assets

A virtual twin of the Medellín energy community was created in the Grid Singularity Exchange to simulate and study the impact of a real peer-to-peer marketplace (Medellín local energy market). Simulations were configured based on historical energy data and a simplified version of the applicable energy tariffs. Figure 1 shows the layout of the Medellín local energy market in the Grid Singularity interface.

Figure 1. Medellin local energy market modelled in the Grid Singularity Exchange

Energy data: Historical data of consumption and generation from May 2, 2021, to May 9, 2021, were used to simulate different scenarios. Figures 2 and 3 depict an example of a LI prosumer and the Community centre load and generation profiles for this specific week.

Figure 2. Medellín local energy market LI prosumer consumption and generation profiles over the period of a week (May 2–9, 2021)
Figure 3. Medellín local energy market Community centre consumption and generation profiles over the period of a week (May 2–9, 2021)

Energy tariffs used: Since Colombia’s energy tariff structure for small scale residential energy consumers is complex and includes variables such as ownership of electrical connections and energy meters and their socioeconomic stratum, simplified energy tariffs were used to model the pilot. Specifically, we used a single constant value for grid selling price (16.1ct USD/kWh) and grid buying price (14.7ct USD/kWh) which has a small margin of profit of 1.4ct USD/kWh in line with the allowed net metering scheme.

Four key performance indicators were chosen to analyse the impact of different simulation scenarios:

  1. Energy bills: the cost of energy bought and sold and the cost/revenue balance after the week’s trading for each pilot participant.
  2. Self-sufficiency: self-consumed energy divided by the total energy demanded.
  3. Self-consumption: self-consumed energy divided by the total energy produced.
  4. Payback period: the amount of time it takes for the investment on the energy assets to reach the break-even point for LI prosumers and community centre.

A crucial consideration for less wealthy economies is access to distributed energy resources. For most of the Colombian population, the upfront investment costs of DERs are still prohibitively high, even with financial assistance options taken into consideration. This raises questions about the fairness and justice of the energy transition rollout.

In the Medellín pilot, DERs were installed in low-income neighbourhoods by TECI. These PV arrays are probably the first decentralised, renewable technologies ever installed in households with such socio-economic status in Medellín. In this context, and as part of the collaboration with Grid Singularity, we set out to analyse how enabling a local energy market could affect the financial viability of the energy assets for the pilot participants. Three financial indicators were used for these calculations — net present value (NPV), internal return rate (IRR), and the payback period, which is the amount of time it takes for the investment on the energy assets by the LI prosumers and the community centre to reach the break-even point.

The financial indicators were calculated using the projects’ initial asset costs, which amounted to 2,816 USD collectively for the low-income prosumers, and 12,808 USD for the community centre. The assumptions made for the calculation are as follows: no loans were considered, assuming that every prosumer is self-financing or has a benefactor interested in financing socially oriented Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) projects, cheap government loans, etc. Other assumptions taken as inputs include an efficiency loss of 0.8% per year representing a natural decline in PV generation over time, a weighted average cost of capital (WACC) of 11% and a 7% yearly increase in energy rates.

Connecting the Medellin local energy market live data stream to the Grid Singularity Canary Test Network

The Grid Singularity Canary Test Network [9] allows individual members of local energy communities to trade energy among themselves “live,” in a simulated marketplace, based on the real-time energy consumption and production of their smart meter enabled energy assets. This setup bridges the gap between theoretical local energy markets and reality. In this project, energy assets managed by NEU submitted their actual energy usage through the Asset API once every hour, as per the Colombian spot market timeframe, which mimics how deployed exchanges would operate.

To determine the conditions required for deployable markets in the case of the peer-to-peer transactions in this project, a few iterative experiments were undertaken, which were carried out using historical data and Grid Singularity’s Collaboration tool [10].

Successfully connecting the Medellín community to the Grid Singularity Canary Test Network within this project serves as a technical proof-of-concept and project milestone, leading to a shared understanding of the remaining operational, technical, and regulatory steps required to deploy local energy markets in Colombia using the Grid Singularity Exchange.

Simulation scenarios

Different simulated scenarios were defined to assess the capabilities of the Medellín pilot that could not be tested directly on the ground. The main goal was to test how an actual P2P market could function using the Grid Singularity Exchange market mechanisms. Simulations were run to investigate the results of two alternative scenarios:

  1. Enabling a local energy market: A P2P, local energy market in the Medellín Pilot’s virtual twin was simulated using the data set from the Medellin community and pricing mechanisms as defined under the net-metering regulation. This was compared to the no-trading base case scenario.
  2. Matching PV generation and consumption patterns: To explore how the mismatch between the load and generation profiles in this community could be solved, two solutions are investigated, namely, a theoretical demand response program and adding flexibility by means of residential batteries to some of the participating households.

Discussion of Results

Energy bills

The base-case scenario V0 follows the current retail energy market rules under the net-metering scheme, therefore representing the status-quo under current regulation with no P2P trading among the community participants allowed. Each participant trades exclusively with the energy grid. Prosumers self-consume when possible and buy or sell energy from the grid when necessary.

In scenario V1, a local energy market with P2P trading is enabled by the Grid Singularity Exchange. The simplified Colombian tariffs of grid selling and grid buying prices are used as the maximum and minimum prices for each asset in the market. A double auction market mechanism with pay-as-bid was implemented.

Table 2. Medellín local energy market weekly energy bills for V0 and V1 with value difference expressed in percentage terms. Negative values denote cost, and positive revenue.

Table 2 shows the difference in the net energy bills comparing the base case scenario V0 to the V1 scenario of a local energy market with P2P trading activated. All participants except the community centre had savings with peer-to-peer trading enabled, as compared to the base case operating today under the net-metering scheme regulated by the Colombian energy regulator (CREG). The total collective energy bill reduction for the energy community amounted to 5.11% per week, corresponding to 20.16 USD per month.

Since the grid selling price (16.1ct USD/kWh) and grid buying price (14.7ct USD/kWh) were used in this case to simulate the local peer-to-peer trading, the prosumer PVs sell at a maximum of 16.1ct USD/kWh, and the initial buying rate of each load is 14.7ct USD/kWh. This leaves a small profit margin of 1.4ct USD/kWh for the prosumers in the market. This limitation in the prices, coupled with mismatched generation and consumption profiles and a lack of flexibility in the community in terms of storage assets, prevents efficient utilisation of the generation in the community. These constraints also greatly affect potential earnings and benefits for the P2P market scenario.

Some of the insights from the results obtained per group of pilot participants include:

  • Consumers and Prosumers:

The market consumers saved 4.9% on average on their weekly bills, after P2P was enabled using the Grid Singularity Exchange as shown in Table 2. Even though they had no generation assets, all of the consumers had an energy cost reduction. On the other hand, Low-Income Prosumers reaped the largest benefits in the P2P market. In Table 2 we see that LI_Prosumer 3 had an increase of +300% in their energy bill, and that it changed from a net cost to a net revenue when observed in the base scenario compared to the P2P scenario.

  • Community Centre:

As demonstrated in the base case in Table 2, the community centre reaches a positive net energy balance, turning a small profit. The effect on the battery is evident since the community centre uses the battery exclusively for self-consumption and selling back to the grid. When P2P trading is enabled in V1, the battery becomes an agent in the P2P market and starts trading with other participants outside the community centre within the limits of the price mechanism. Consequently, there is a profit increase, reaching a net payment balance of +1.92 USD/Month.

Self-sufficiency and self-consumption

There are significant increases in the self-consumption and self-sufficiency values for the Medellín community with enabled P2P trading compared to the base case as shown in Table 3 below. In V0, participants traded only with the grid. However, in V1, the local allocation of surplus electricity by the prosumers and community centre resulted in the local market becoming less dependent on external trades and more favourable prices for members of the community. This resulted in higher local consumption.

Table 3. Self-sufficiency and self-consumption for the Medellín local energy market for scenarios V0 and V1

Financial indicators

The financial indicator parameters considered in this calculation do not differ significantly among the low-income prosumers for the base case scenario, as they have the same energy assets and similar average consumption profiles as the high income prosumers. The difference in net present value for LI_Prosumer_3, compared to LI_Prosumer_1 and LI_Prosumer_2 can be explained by the difference in this household’s consumption pattern. The higher investment costs for the community centre are due to the battery and larger capacity of the PV system installed.

Table 4. Financial indicators for LI Prosumers and Community centre in scenarios V0 and V1

In Table 4, it can be seen that the activation of P2P trading had a similar impact on all LI prosumers, due to similar energy assets and consumption profiles. There is a slightly positive increase in the net present value for these three participants, compared to the V0 base case, due to their reduced energy bills. However, the reduction in the energy bills does not translate into a noteworthy decrease in the payback period for LI_Prosumer_1 and LI_Prosumer_2 (11 and 10 years, respectively). For LI_Prosumer_3, the slightly higher positive net present value does render the investment more profitable, shortening the payback period from 10 to 9 years.

Surpassing financial unviability

The project also investigated the bankability of residential distributed energy resources for low-income prosumers. In scenario V0, all LI prosumers and the community centre were financially unviable. In V1, however, the benefits of participating in the local energy market made the PV installation for LI_ Prosumer_ 3 a financially viable option, as the net present value is positive and the IRR higher than the WACC, meaning that the investment would cover the capital cost expectations and that the payback period would be shortened from 10 to 9 years if peer-to-peer trading were activated.

Matching PV generation and consumption patterns: demand side response vs energy storage

Demand side flexibility and storage technologies are becoming increasingly important as our reliance on intermittent renewable sources such as solar heightens. The Medellín Local energy market is a typical example of the challenge of optimising PV resources in an energy community. A mismatch between PV production and consumption is clearly identifiable within the Medellin community, as PV production peaks at times of low demand (noon) and is insufficient to cover the consumption needs of the participants during times of high demand (early morning and at night). The mismatch is exemplified by HI Prosumer 3 in Figure 4 below.

To improve this situation and consequently the performance of the local energy market, two simulated scenarios were created in an effort to find a solution to this mismatch namely demand side response mechanism and the addition of flexibility in terms of residential batteries.

Demand side response (DSR) is any explicit action taken to adjust energy behaviours in response to different types of incentives. DSR is challenging, as it relies on incentives and encouragement to effect changes in people’s behaviour in the short term. However, if the incentives do not convince the users, they will easily revert to their initial behavioural patterns. By partially reducing consumption levels or shifting them from peak to off-peak hours, DSR can function as a flexibility tool for utilities or aggregators to use in response to supply shortages and as an alternative option to curtailment when there is excess PV production.

Demand response programs differ according to the interests of the initiating party, and can be categorised as follows:

  • Incentive-based demand response: signals are issued by the utility or the aggregator and sent to the participants in the form of voluntary demand reduction requests or mandatory commands.
  • Rate-based demand response: electricity prices change during different times of the day and night, depending on the network’s requirements. Customers would pay the highest prices during peak hours and lowest prices during off-peak hours [10].
  • Demand reduction bids: consumers (mainly distributed generation owners) send demand reduction bids to the utility or the aggregator. The bids include the available demand reduction capacity and the price.

Research on the implementation of DSR mechanisms has shed light on pathways that enhance the inclusion of low-income energy users, which is relevant for this pilot project. Gadham and Ghose [11] designed an incentive and disincentive-based demand response scheme considering social welfare and found that participants mainly benefit from electricity bill reductions. Brockway and Hornby [12] showed that LI consumers in the US are responsive to dynamic rates, and that many such users can benefit by dynamic pricing even without engaging with DSR by shifting their loads. S. L. Arun and M. P. Selvan [13] proposed a residential energy management system to increase the prosumer power-sharing profit and reduce user’s electricity bill. The proposed demand response framework was validated through a case study by considering a residential building equipped with different types of household appliances, battery backup and small-scale renewable energy resources. Case study results confirm that the energy management systems significantly increase savings in electricity bills of the prosumers. Based on these findings, we designed and simulated a DSR scenario for the Medellín local energy market in the Grid Singularity Exchange.

A simulation with shifted consumption profiles was created to assess the impact of a theoretical DSR mechanism. All participants’ consumption profiles, including that of the community centre were shifted manually by 10 hours to maximise the overlap of the consumption and production peaks.

Figure 4. Consumption and production trends for High Income Prosumer 3 without consumption profiles shifting (top) and after consumption profiles shifting (bottom)

The simulation results show that the shift in the consumption patterns increased the community self-sufficiency and self-consumption levels. Table 5 shows the self-sufficiency and self-consumption differences between scenario V0 and scenario V1 with the demand side response mechanism.

Table 5. Self-sufficiency and self-consumption before and after the introduction of theoretical DSR in the Medellín local energy market

An evaluation of the energy bills is illustrated in Table 6. It shows a further reduction in the collective community bills of 2.5% in the V1 scenario with DSR, compared to the V1 scenario without DSR.

Table 6. Weekly energy bill differentiation from V0-V1 to V1-V1+DSR in the Medellín local energy market

It is important to note that the DSR programme was designed considering the average load curve of the community and “forced” on every user. Hence, some participants saw their savings decrease when DSR was implemented, as the competition in the market slots without DSR was more favourable to these participants. Furthermore, the self-consumption levels of these participants could have been less-optimal if their load curves were highly deviated from the average. Regardless of these individual benefit reductions, ultimately, there were overall improvements for the community by adding DSR. The community savings increased by 6.9% by moving from the base case to P2P with DSR, corresponding to 27.04 USD saved by the community as a whole per month. In the end, this experiment was completed for theoretical knowledge, as there is low feasibility that the participants would be able and willing to drastically shift their demand beyond an experimental stage.

Introduction of energy storage

Electricity storage is a technological solution to mismatches between production and consumption patterns. Batteries provide flexibility which improves the allocation and use of renewable generation. Individual storage systems increase self-consumption rates of rooftop PV and decrease a household’s load peak. In local distribution networks, batteries can reduce constraints and remove the need for reinforcement investments for the electric grid infrastructure [14]. In individual households, behind-the-meter batteries are the most commonly used type, as they are intended to provide energy bill savings by boosting self-consumption.

A simulation was created to solve the mismatch in this pilot, whereby batteries were introduced to provide flexibility. The Medellín local energy markets’ design principle is to include low-income participants and evaluate how they could assume the role of prosumers in the future energy landscape. On this basis, simulated residential batteries of 6.3 kWh with a maximum power rating of 3 kW were added to each of the low-income prosumer households.

Table 7. Weekly energy bills after adding 6.3kWh batteries to the low-income prosumers in V1 in the Medellín local energy market

Table 7 shows us that by adding these batteries, the low-income prosumers and community centre would see further revenue increases from the sale of electricity, as compared to the base case. Energy imports by the community from the grid are reduced in this scenario, giving the community overall collective savings of 7.03%, which corresponds to 27.72 USD per month. The self-sufficiency and self-consumption values also increased from 6.2% and 17.5% to 18.7% and 52.9% respectively, in comparison to the base case.

While these are positive results for the LI prosumers, unfortunately, the addition of the batteries to the investment costs for the LI prosumers renders them a financially non-viable option, as demonstrated in Table 8. Although high upfront costs remain a significant barrier for wide-scale battery use, current trends of declining residential energy storage prices are expected to continue in the coming years, making them a more financially viable solution for low-income residents [15].

Table 8 — Financial indicators for LI Prosumers and Community centre in scenario V1 + Batteries in the Medellín local energy market

Conclusion: Key takeaways

  • The presented first-of-its-kind simulation research collaboration in Latin America analyses the impact of the local energy market with active P2P trading in Medellín, Colombia, powered by the Grid Singularity Exchange (previously the Medellín community trading was based on a collective trading net-billing scheme rather than actual, direct P2P trading).
  • Enabling a P2P local energy market resulted in an improved cost-revenue balance for end-users, with significant profits for some participants and increased self-sufficiency (18.2%) and self-consumption (51.6%) for the overall community.
  • The energy bills were reduced by 5.11% on average, improving savings for the community as a whole after the activation of P2P energy trading. These improvements were limited by the pricing strategies allowed within the current Colombian net-metering scheme, highlighting the need for a change in the Colombian energy regulation to allow residents a choice of energy supplier and access to a range of energy tariffs.
Figure 5. Medellín local energy market simulation results: energy bills, self-sufficiency and self-consumption change with activated P2P trading (note: results significantly improved when demand response also applied)
  • These KPIs could be further improved by introducing smart asset trading strategies [16] and community optimisation algorithms to better utilise available resources within the community.
  • Under current price conditions, residential PV installations are only financially viable for the wealthiest population segments in Colombia, i.e residential energy consumers with a monthly energy consumption higher than 500 kWh in strata 5 and 6. P2P local energy markets activation in communities can help improve financial access to distributed energy resources, especially for low-to-middle income energy users. These benefits would be higher with a broader scope of market pricing as noted above with LI Prosumer 3’s payback period shortened from 10 to 9 years.
  • The evaluation of techniques to more optimally match PV generation and consumption patterns showed that adding flexibility through batteries (storage) or a DSR mechanism yields similar results. Flexibility through batteries brought about slightly more favourable outcomes, but the associated investment costs render this pathway financially unviable, especially for low-income prosumers. This situation is expected to improve in the near future with the introduction of more efficient new battery technologies and price reductions. Importantly, the solar energy generated in the community currently could be consumed by additional community members such as office buildings or supermarkets that have a high energy demand during the day generating income for the LI and HI prosumers.

As new user-centred energy models become more salient, attractive, and profitable, Colombia’s energy sector needs to modernise its tariff structure and socioeconomic subsidies, while protecting vulnerable users, if it is to progress in tandem with these developments. Introducing regulatory reforms favouring P2P and energy sharing mechanisms can enable low and mid-income small-scale prosumers to benefit from the new energy models. Choosing different energy suppliers with a range of value propositions and tariffs beyond the current net metering policies could make the market more competitive and profitable. Furthermore, the Colombian government, energy companies and financial institutions could foster DER adoption by providing low-interest rate loans, new PPA and pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) models to increase the viability of small-scale PV and storage projects.

This article was authored by Fatuma Ali, Juan Pablo Cárdenas Álvarez, Ana Trbovich and Andrea Bertolini, with contributions from Juan Manuel España Forero and Santiago Ortega Arango.


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