The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which runs the electricity market for Australia, is launching Project Edge, a trial to integrate renewable energy into the grid. The aim is to incorporate distributed energy resources (DERs) such as wind and solar panels (PV) into the main grid and blockchain technology is part of the project.
Its DER Marketplace solution is being developed with power company AusNet, renewables firm Mondo, and technology partners Energy Web, which will provide the blockchain ‘operating system’, PXiSE and Microsoft for cloud hosting.
Traditional grids are designed to distribute energy one way, from large-scale power generators to households and businesses. The AEMO trial, with A$13m in support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), aims to aggregate household solar and other DERs to create a source of energy not dissimilar to a power station.
Apart from solar, some households also have battery storage or batteries in electric vehicles that can store renewable energy. This stored excess solar energy can be released at a later time. If connected to the grid, it also enables households to provide energy when needed to balance energy demand at peak times. Blockchain can be used to create a renewable energy marketplace, financially incentivizing households to contribute any excess energy capacity to the grid.
Australia claims to have one of the highest adoptions of DERs globally, with solar panels on one in four domestic rooftops and 40% of households in some states.
The goal of the trial is threefold:
- To gain technical and operational experience on how this works.
- To use that knowledge to provide data to regulators.
- To understand consumer preferences and their desire to sell energy to aggregators.
“Project EDGE aims to build understanding of and inform the most efficient and sustainable way to integrate DER into the electricity system and markets, allowing all consumers to benefit from a future with high levels of DER,” said AEMO Chief Markets Officer, Member Services, Violette Mouchaileh.
“There is no existing product that meets all high-level requirements for the DER Marketplace, so Project EDGE is at the leading edge of product development in this space.”
Trials will start in April 2022 and complete in March 2023.
Energy Web Foundation is one of a handful of early players in using blockchain for renewable energy marketplaces. It has relationships with numerous power companies and energy agencies around the world, such as the Austrian Power Grid, German Energy Agency Dena, Engie and many others.
Startups targeting the opportunity to use blockchain for renewable marketplaces include Australia’s PowerLedger, LO3 Energy, and WePower. And in Europe, EQUIGY is a collaboration between European energy grids from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.