Blockchain P2P Energy Transactions Explored By US Energy Department

Announcements, Blockchain, Innovation | January 26, 2018 By:

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has partnered with blockchain startup BlockCypher to develop blockchain solutions for peer-to-peer (p2p) energy transactions.

BlockCypher is a cloud-optimized platform powering blockchain applications reliably and at-scale. It provides a way for organizations to easily build reliable blockchain applications. Blockcypher’s features include multiple data centers, REST API documentation, cloud infrastructure, robust data stores, and hosted full blockchain nodes.

The partnership aim to demonstrate how energy transactions involving distributed energy resources (DER) can be settled across multiple blockchains and integrated technologies. The initial test of the system will demonstrate how p2p payments can be facilitated and settled on the Dash network between test homes in NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF). The ability to test in ESIF laboratory enables assessment of technical performance, such as hardware responses and transaction settlement speed, at the megawatt scale.

Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor said that by enabling smart meters with the ability to exchange digital currency for electricity, they can make the grid more efficient and stable by enabling the monetization of stored energy and energy production at the endpoints of the grid.

“It can also help avoid costly infrastructure upgrades if our grids can operate more efficiently,” said Taylor. “Dash is uniquely fit to facilitate these payments, because it is designed to scale to massively large transactions while maintaining very low transaction costs.”

BlockCypher Head of Growth Karen Hsu said the technology developed in this project would be important in a natural disaster or when the grid goes down for extended periods.

“This technology is important as energy consumption continues to grow with more people using electric vehicles and battery powered devices,” said Hsu. “Peer-to-peer energy exchanges could improve the match of generation and demand, reducing under voltage or brownouts during peak energy usage.”

While other blockchain projects have been explored in Austria, Australia, Germany and England, this is the first time the DOE is exploring blockchain technology to facilitate p2p energy transactions.

“NREL has been working with utilities, regulators, and other government agencies to leverage DER to enable a more cost effective, environmentally friendly, and efficient electric grid,” said Dylan Cutler, Senior Engineer and Principal Investigator for the project at NREL. “Blockchain technology presents a transformative and highly scalable platform for enabling distributed energy markets, which could enable DER to interact more effectively with the larger grid. These interactions include more efficient demand response, capacity reserves, and power quality support. The project will ideally then be scaled to include utility interaction and multiple homes on a feeder.”