Blockchain technology trial to test power trading


A new trial using blockchain technology could enable households and business to trade or share power with one-another.

AGL Energy (AGL) is leading the project to evaluate a virtual trial at Melbourne homes with a mix of solar panels, batteries to store electricity, and ‘smart’ air conditioning.

The desktop trial is being funded by AGL, IBM Australia and distributed energy market advisors Marchment Hill Consulting, as well as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

AGL New Energy executive general manager Elisabeth Brinton said the purpose of the cutting-edge trial was to test and learn to determine the applicability of blockchain technology as a platform for energy trading or sharing.

Blockchain was originally devised for the digital currency Bitcoin and is used in other industries such as financial markets.

“We’re excited to work with our partners to determine how this technology can help customers more directly manage household energy and derive more value from their distributed energy resource assets including solar panels and battery storage,” Ms Brinton said.

“Personalising the energy experience and helping consumers harness and share the solar energy they generate is part of our future energy ecosystem.

“As a leading energy retailer we see our role as a key provider and enabler of new, customer-centric energy solutions that utilise innovation technology including the sharing or trading of energy.

“This trial will help us learn how blockchain could facilitate this kind of transaction.”

ARENA is providing $120,000 to support the $293,800 trial, which was conceived in A Lab, ARENA’s grid integration innovation lab.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said exploring ways for consumers to trade their own energy could help make renewables more affordable and better able to support our grids.

“Australia has experienced a rooftop solar boom in the past decade and we are expecting a residential battery boom to follow in the coming years,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This means we’d like to explore new technologies and mechanisms to allow consumers and business to trade their own renewable energy with each other and with network companies.

“Ultimately these investigations are about getting the most value out of solar and battery systems through a more flexible and modern marketplace.

“By supporting innovators like AGL to conduct projects like this, ARENA is helping to ensure a smooth transition to a renewable energy future.”

IBM will focus on the applicability of blockchain technology to recognising, authenticating and settling energy trading and Marchment Hill will provide market analysis.

Blockchain technology, which was originally devised for the digital currency Bitcoin and is used in other industries such as financial markets, is being trialled as a method of peer-to-peer energy trading through this project.

This initial trial will help understand if there is value in peer-to-peer markets and how blockchain technology could facilitate this market in a cost effective way.

It will also provide valuable information for regulators, energy service companies, start-ups, retailers, and networks on how peer-to-peer trading affects markets and market participants, and how this market could be further developed.

The trial is due for completion in July 2017 and could lead to a physical, real-world trial.