TransActive Grid, a solar project on Brooklyn’s rooftops in New York City is taking a slightly different approach to community solar with a local microgrid. The project, still in early stages, hopes to ultimately use a blockchain platform that will allow participants to buy, sell and trade energy produced by solar panels in the system in what Siemens called the first peer-to-peer blockchain network fro electricity.
“A microgrid is a nucleus that sets the stage for an energy future consisting of networks of energy cells,” explained Stefan Jessenberger of Siemens’ Energy Management Division, earlier this year. “Blockchain also supports this process, because it makes it much easier to conduct energy trading within cells.”
The project, launched by LO3 Energy, a startup and next47, a subsidiary financier of Siemens and Siemens Digital Grid aimed at startups, have connected roughly 40 homes and businesses to a local microgrid. The blockchain platform allows the participants to produce and trade the power locally, rather than put it back on the larger grid. It also would allow the participants to island from the main grid in the event of hurricane and power outage.
“The neighborhood wants to be prepared for the next hurricane, deal responsibly with the environment, and strengthen its sense of solidarity,” said Scott Kessler, director of business development at LO3 Energy. “Our experiences with the Brooklyn Microgrid will certainly flow into future projects,” says Kessler.
However, obstacles remain. Currently, in the US people can’t buy or sell electricity they generated without involving a utility, according to Reuters. As such the members of TransActive Grid are currently net-metering, getting credited for the surplus energy produced by solar panels to their utility at the retail rate.
In moving toward the blockchain platform, the members formed the Brooklyn Microgrid pilot project with residents of Park Slope, Gowanus and Boerum Hill. The microgrid arrangement and the TransActive Grid platform provide technology that timestamps each transaction as a chain of secure blocks. That and the technical products from Seimens will help such transactions take place. In the mean time members with solar panels can sell the renewable energy credits of benefits produced by their solar panels to others who participate but don’t have solar panels.
Looking ahead the Brooklyn Microgrid plans to keep growing l soon start installing battery storage units within the grid. By early 2017 it expected to have 50 brownstones participating, as well as apartment houses, schools, a gas station, a fire station, and factory buildings. It will begin installing energy storage systems and aims to have 1,000 participants by 2018.Tweet