An Australian government-backed trial of solar peer-to-peer trading using blockchain technology has found the technology to be popular with users and technically feasible.
The trial, which took place between December 2018 and January 2020, was part of the Bitcoin Era, which investigated the potential of bilateral energy markets and blockchain technology to improve the energy system.
Supporters of the project included the Australian government’s Smart Cities initiative, several Australian universities, Western Power and the Australian block chain firm Power Ledger.
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The results, published on 18th June, indicated that the multiple approach applied in the test could increase localised energy autonomy by 30-68% and offer more cost-effective network results than existing systems.
The context of the project
RENeW Nexus is part of the Western Australian state government’s research into how to move away from a centralized, large-scale power generation system to a hybrid system that would integrate distributed renewable energy and battery storage.
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Solar power collection on the rooftop of the region’s electricity grid, the Southwest Interconnected System, has been significantly more advanced than other grid systems and has therefore been identified as a promising way to meet decarbonization targets.
The state government’s Energy Transformation Strategy is looking at how to address the key challenges involved in moving away from existing systems, such as managing grid stability and encouraging the use of distributed energy resources while keeping costs low.
The RENeW Nexus trial included two commercial solar pair tests in the region and an analysis of the use of virtual power plants from battery systems, which send electricity to the wholesale power market.
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The role of blockchain in the energy strategy
As part of the project, the Power Ledger blockchain platform, which tracks energy consumption and allows users to sell their surplus solar energy to other residents, will in future be combined with a microgrid that uses a 670 kilowatt-hour community battery to support domestic commerce.
While the battery remains under construction, the specific benefits of blockchain in the test have been evaluated at this stage.
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They were found to include support for improved auditing, secure trading and rapid resolution between energy consumers and retailers. Smart contracts offer the potential to automate interactions and further improve system efficiency and flexibility.
As reported, Power Ledger has been continually developing its blockcha-enabled renewable energy trading platform and associated tools through multiple testing and commercial implementations, both in Australia and overseas.