Using Blockchain Technology, NREL Opens Window to Peer-to-peer Energy Transactions


[Music playing]>>Narrator: Lower costs and better technologies
for distributed energy resources are providing a whole new suite of control capabilities
and generation resources for the electric grid. Among other benefits, distributed energy resources
relieve pressure on centralized grids and can boost resiliency
during outages. To take full advantage of these
advanced technologies, BlockCypher and NREL are collaborating to develop a new
application to prove the concept of an open market for peer-to-peer energy transactions. This kind of market would give consumers more
choices and lower energy costs. It could
also reduce infrastructure needs for utilities, and give them a closer look at energy usage
at the grid edge.>>Karen Hsu: The purpose of this project is
to really figure out a way to incentivize people. And the best way to incentivize people is
to pay them. And it’s just that simple. So using the blockchain, we were able to show
not only how you could pay people, but you could also show how you can send the energy
receipt to that person. So it’s not only
paying, but it’s sending data over the blockchain.>>Narrator: The application connects the home
to blockchain infrastructure to settle energy contracts and associated transactions. Rapid transactions and next-to-nothing
overhead costs make it possible.>>Karen Hsu: So it’s kind of like you and
I are neighbors; you have energy to sell, and I
have energy to buy, usually at peak hours, because it’s too expensive for me to buy it
from the utilities. And so I’d love to buy it from you at a lower
rate. And of course, you’d
like to sell it to me for some kind of profit. Now, in this demonstration we’re gonna show
is really just that happening, right? So how would we set up an agreement for the
price at which you are gonna sell energy to me?>>Narrator: This application cryptographically
signs meter readings to prove energy was generated, then embeds them into the blockchain. This enables secure commodity
tracking, with the smart meter providing the root of trust. For this demo, the application is
integrated with an NREL-developed home energy management system called foresee. foresee controls the hardware and the laboratory
as the system finds the reduced pricing available through the peer-to-peer contract. It schedules appliance operation for that
window, reshaping the electrical load of the home and saving money for the homeowner. When the exchange has completed, payment
confirmation and the receipt are sent, and the home returns to standard operations.>>Dylan Cutler: Essentially what makes this
lab unique for this project is the amount of
hardware connected to actual electrical distribution inside the lab that allows us to test
basically real-world home operations, all the appliances and devices in your house,
but off the utility grid. And so we’re dealing with the technical issues
without having to resolve kind of all the policy and regulatory
aspects. We can just test performance of this
system in a lab environment. There’s a lot of kind of talk around what
blockchain could do for the energy sector, and
so we wanted to bring this into the lab to do kind of controlled testing, and demonstrate
some of the capabilities, and start to understand what peer-to-peer transactions really look
like. And so that’s almost like a building block
of what a larger distributed energy market could look like. I think where we would like to take this from
here is to replicate what we’re doing here, have hundreds of these homes
being able to interact – in the exact same peer-to-peer mechanism,
and integrate those to a distribution feeder model that we have here at the lab, and test
out kind of impacts on larger utility grid systems, and how that impacts the utilities. Look at kind of the whole value proposition
of this system.>>Karen Hsu: This team clearly knows what
they’re doing. They’ve been in this space for
a long time, and they have the knowledge about the industry and the technology.

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