Decentralization has the potential to disrupt yet another sector; the facilitation of peer to peer energy trading and storage. By cutting out the middlemen, households and commercial properties alike could benefit from reduced fees and frictionless exchange and storage of energy.
This is exactly what a partnership between Power Ledger, a Perth company, and Ledger Assets, Australia’s largest blockchain company, aims to do. Starting August 25, the first trial will involve 15 to 20 households in Busselton, western Australia, which boasts more than 300 days of sunshine annually. Additionally, rooftop solar panels are being adopted at an increasing rate, highlighting that consumers want to take control of both electricity production and consumption. The objective of this trial is to ensure the Power Ledger system works, by verifying, recording, and settling transactions virtually, comparing it against the energy retailer’s transactions for accuracy.
The second trial, scheduled for the first half of next year and backed by Landcorp and Synergy, will involve 80 households, with some containing storage batteries. They will be trading electricity across the network and utilizing Power Ledger’s system for settling transactions, inspired by residents in a Brooklyn neighbourhood who have already started to generate and trade energy independently of the existing system.
Talk of a larger scale trial with either a wind farm or a solar farm with an electricity distributor in Victoria is also ongoing. Solar panels have increased dramatically in efficiency while dropping in price at the same time over the last couple of year, making it a much more viable option as a renewable source of energy for homeowners.
Jemma Green, Chair of Power Ledger states, “Just as Airbnb and Uber have up-ended the hospitality and transport markets, Power Ledger has the potential to change forever the way we buy and sell energy to power our homes.”
Not being bound to only being able to buy or sell during off-peak hours and doing so with no third party will increase utilization of solar panels and batteries, as well as incentivizing prospective buyers into buying solar panels.
This could also open up some interesting scenarios, allowing an entire neighborhood to stay powered temporarily through efficient allocation and distribution of energy in case of a power outage from the primary energy provider. Raspberry Pi’s are being used to track each household’s energy usage while blockchain technology couples a tracked energy transaction with a financial one, allowing individuals to decide how distribute their excess energy.
Peer to peer energy trading would allow for anyone to start their own business selling power, increasing competition and breaking up the monopoly that comes from usually only one or two providers to choose from. Power Ledger gives us an interesting look into the future, with plans of applying the blockchain to renewable energy and batteries to better manage the supply and demand of solar energy.