Published on July 9th, 2018 | by Jake Richardson0
Peer-to-Peer Solar Energy Trading Trial In Japan Will Use Blockchain
July 9th, 2018 by Jake Richardson
Electrify is a Singapore-based energy retail marketplace co-founded by Julius Tan, who is also the blockchain startup’s CEO. Electrify will soon be making it possible for excess solar power to be traded using its peer-to-peer energy trading platform in the Kyushu region of Japan. Mr. Tan answered some questions about the startup’s work for CleantTechnica.
Our TAKE Energy Pilot Project will feature one residential site in Kyushu, a region of eight million inhabitants with the largest growth of solar deployment due to strong solar irradiation. As for our TEPCO pilot project, we are still actively discussing and planning it so we cannot provide further details for now. It should be emphasized, though, that TEPCO is a literal powerhouse in energy research and production with a customer base of 29 million; their industry profile and expertise will surely contribute to the success of our pilot.
2. Are businesses participating as well? If so many, how many?
Yes, the TAKE Energy pilot will include at least one commercial site. More details soon.
3. What incentives are there for homeowners and businesses to participate in this new kind of energy trading?
The benefits are as follows:
a) Homeowners can take control of their electricity by selecting preferred sources (like rooftop solar) and have that tracked through the Synergy platform. The platform will recommend selections based on consumer preferences and matching.
b) The disintermediation—removal of third parties—on the Synergy platform not only makes for a seamless user experience but also leads to cost savings over traditional retail offerings.
4. Who developed the blockchain technology used for the energy trading, and does it use the Ethereum network?
We plan to deploy Synergy on the Plasma network with Ethereum. Plasma is an autonomous smart contract scaling solution that will benefit Ethereum and allow for potentially millions of transactions per second. Our development work is all done in-house. We are building an intelligent energy ecosystem on blockchain that will enable peer-to-peer trading on the main grid. Components critical to enable this ecosystem, developed in-house, includes Electrify’s:
-PowerPod IoT device: to accurately track and audit the production from small scale producers,
-eWallet will be used to facilitate payments via the smart contracts, allowing customers to pay for energy usage.
5. Are homeowners who also have solar power using the system to trade energy?
Once we launch Synergy commercially, these prosumers (people who consume as well as produce) will be able to sell their surplus energy to consumers on the platform.
6. What advantages are there for using a peer-to-peer energy trading system?
Our objective is to lower the barriers-of-entry for energy trading and increase participation in the electricity markets. The benefits for consumers are described in more detail in Question 3. At the same time, retailers benefit from access to a portfolio of renewable sources that they can use to spruce up and add value to their existing offerings. Future iterations of Synergy will allow aggregated control of multiple distributed energy resources (DERs) to form virtual power plants.
7. When launching such a system, how do you publicize it to get adopters?
We profile consumers and businesses and engage in direct marketing with those that stand to have the highest possible savings from using our platform. This would include residentials with home-based DERs (like rooftop solar, home battery systems), businesses with high peak consumption profiles and sustainability goals.
8. How can you bring such a system to North America, and are you planning to do so soon?
We have taken a modular approach to our platform design and intend for it to be adaptable to different market structures and regulations through a localization layer. We have done this because we recognize the global nature of blockchain technology and are intent on sharing our solution with the world. Our goal is, after all, to democratize energy trading. In this regard, we are certainly keen to explore the opportunity to enter North America should the conditions be favorable, and when we find the right partnership.
9. Do users of the energy trading system make trades via a Web browser or via a mobile device interface?
Users can trade through a browser as well as monitor their transactions via mobile.
10. Does the system employ analytics and machine learning to help users buy and sell at optimal times?
Yes, it is something we see as a major enabler to improve system efficiency, lower barriers, and help more users enjoy cost savings automatically. This Artificial Intelligence feature is currently under development.
11. Do users of such systems typically pay more attention to their energy consumption and consume less?
That is certainly a possible outcome that has huge positive implications for sustainable consumption. Using the trading platform and having access to your energy data will allow you to be more conscious of your daily activities and consumption patterns; it might even incentivize you to change certain aspects of your lifestyle for the better.
For much more on cleantech & blockchain, check out our new report on this topic: Blockchain — An Innovation Enabler for Clean Technology (2018). Here’s a brief summary:
Mike Barnard explains how blockchain’s attributes make it particularly well suited to cleantech’s needs. Blockchains are a form of distributed ledger. They are heavily decentralized, with identical copies of the ledger residing on many independent computers around the world. Those computers cross-validate blocks of transactions and agree to add them to the ledger, making blockchains especially secure against corruption. This low-cost, flexible, scalable software — and the smart contracts and transactions it supports — can empower utilities, grid operators, major corporations, communities, and everyday energy prosumers like you and me.