Fremantle residents to trade solar energy using blockchain

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A trial in solar energy trading enabled by blockchain has officially kicked off in the port city of Fremantle, looking to demonstrate the interconnected infrastructure of future smart cities.

The RENeW Nexus project managed through Curtin University, which will run until June 2019, will use a fixed residential tariff and a new billing system developed specifically for the trial.

“The trial represents an innovative solution to virtual energy trading that may have implications for energy utilities working to balance energy supply and demand all over the world,” WA Energy Minister Ben Wyatt said.

Announced in late 2017, the project was set up with the goal to use blockchain technology to pair utility-scale and commercial rooftop PV with a battery, electric vehicle charging stations and water treatment and capture systems in the port city of Fremantle.

One of the partners on the project, Perth-based blockchain developer Power Ledger has provided the transactional layer for the renewable assets, the energy and water systems, as well as the ownership model for the community owned battery.

As Power Ledger explains, the trial will involve highly resilient, low-carbon and low-cost systems, including a large solar PV plant, rooftop solar PV panels, a precinct sized battery, an electric vehicle charge station and precinct water treatment and capture systems,  installed and connected using blockchain technology and data analytics.

The project won the Australian government’s funding of $2.57 million, which came as part of the government’s $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

An additional $5.68 million is funded through project partners including Curtin University, Murdoch University, Curtin Institute of Computation, LandCorp, CSIRO/Data61, CISCO and Power Ledger.

The WA government said in a release that there is still a limited opportunity for Fremantle residents who do not have solar PV on their rooftops to participate in the project.

Namely, as announced earlier by RENeW Nexus, residents with solar PV and/or a rainwater tank are welcome to join the trial.

“These households are believed to be the first in the world to be taking part in an active, billed, peer-to-peer trading trial that allows them to effectively buy and sell solar energy generated by their rooftop system across the grid,“ Wyatt said in comments on Thursday.

However, there is a number of other similar project under way across Australia and globally. 

In WA, Power Ledger is also implementing its blockchain technology at Yolk Property Group’s Evermore development at White Gum Valley powered by solar PV and battery storage in partnership with Western Power and Curtin University. The project will allow the 24 apartments to buy and sell solar power amongst themselves, and benefit from a 30% saving on their electricity bills.

Earlier this year, the first commercial deployment of Power Ledger’s P2P energy trading platform took in partnership with energy solutions business Greenwood Solutions, which will be in charge of installing solar across strata units in Melbourne.

Last May, AGL started testing a blockchain-based peer-to-peer solar trading program in South Australia with the goal to enable households with a mix of solar panels, batteries and ‘smart’ air conditioning to trade or share excess electricity they generate.