Distributed Energy Resources

Utility starts project to track DERs with blockchain

Ameren and Opus One Solutions are working together to test a transactive energy marketplace and evaluate the use of blockchain technology.

The transactive marketplace concept will be tested at investor-owned Ameren’s Technology Applications Center, a 1.475-megawatt microgrid adjacent to the University of Illinois campus in Champaign, Illinois, that was completed in May 2017.

The Champaign microgrid’s generation resources comprise a 100 kW wind system, 125 kW of solar power, a 1 MW gas generator, and 250 kW of battery storage.

The transactive energy marketplace will use Opus One’s software, which includes blockchain technology, to identify the value each microgrid DER provides to the local distribution feeder and the customers it supplies. Currently those resources are tracked through an integrated system of primary, secondary and tertiary control and monitoring system.

“Identifying the value local distributed energy resources (DER) can provide to our distribution system and the customers it serves, helps inform how and where customers should invest in clean renewable power,” Ron Pate, senior vice president of operations and technical services with Ameren Illinois, said in a statement. “Transactive energy markets will ensure that distributed energy resources are compensated appropriately, for the services that they provide,” he said.

Blockchain technology, perhaps best known for its use in Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrencies, is a digital ledger capable of automatically and securely recording small transactions. It is being used in a variety of industries as a means of reducing accounting and transaction costs.

Public power utility Silicon Valley Power in California last September began a project to test the use of blockchain for tracking credits associated with electric vehicle charging.

The California public power utility is working with Clean Energy Blockchain Network to track the production and use of energy at a solar-powered parking garage in Santa Clara where Silicon Valley Power operates 49 electric vehicle charging stations.

Also in 2018, the Burlington Electric Department in Vermont won a grant from the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments (DEED) program to use blockchain technology to facilitate the integration and distribution of energy from multiple sources in real time.

In New York, the New York Power Authority, along with other utilities, is studying the potential for blockchain technology in connection with smart contracts that can automatically complete transactions when contract conditions are met.

In Nevada, NV Energy is exploring the use of blockchain as a way of giving customers more control over their energy consumption.

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada in late March said that as part of an investigation and rulemaking, it is seeking comments regarding whether providers of electric service should be authorized to use alternative solutions, including blockchain-based options, to track and certify Nevada portfolio energy credits.