Solar panels, distributed energy, resilient microgrids, and blockchain. Oh my!
A New York startup aims to disrupt local energy markets with the introduction of community microgrids where individuals can buy and sell renewable energy from residential rooftop solar installations. The Brooklyn Microgrid will use an approach called the TransActive Grid, which is comprised of both software and hardware, to enable its members to securely engage in buying and selling energy from each other, using a combination of smart contracts and the blockchain.
The Brooklyn Microgrid, said to be the first of its kind, is a "distributed energy development group" covering the Park Slope and Gowanus communities of Brooklyn, New York, with the aim of creating a connected network for local energy, and combining renewable energy and the peer-to-peer economy. Instead of being locked in to buying (and/or selling) electricity through a large utility company, TransActive Grid (TAG) will allow for greater choice for consumers, and can help individuals become local energy providers by selling their excess rooftop solar electricity production to other local residents or businesses.
TAG is said to connect buildings in the microgrid "via a constantly updated cryptographically secure list" that is stored on devices at each location and to use software called Ethereum to monitor the energy in and energy out of each point of the network. This blockchain-based solution allows for the platform to be securely monitored and for participants to automate their transactions in the local energy ecosystem using the existing grid infrastructure.
“This whole concept benefits the area you live in. By buying energy locally, rather than from a national entity, the money goes back into the pockets of people in the community. We’ll install the transactive platform which pretty much runs itself, whereby energy is automatically priced based on things consumers care about. It’s pretty hands off – as we think that will suit consumers best - but in future we plan to enable people to set preferences to maximise savings, do good in the community, and potentially sell energy cheaper to lower-income residents." - Joseph Lubin, TAG Co-founder
The first iteration of the Brooklyn Microgrid essentially connects houses with solar panels with other nearby houses that want to buy renewable energy, which makes this distributed energy project a truly hyperlocal venture. The Brooklyn Microgrid is a project of TransActive Grid, which is itself a joint venture between LO3 Energy and Consensus Systems. Find out more at Brooklyn Microgrid, TransActive Grid, or LO3 Energy.