More power for Power Ledger

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In a world first, Perth-based Power Ledger has facilitated the world’s first blockchain-based peer-to-peer renewable energy transfer across a regulated network.

Many of us would have heard of Power Ledger, who famously ran Australia’s first Initial Coin Offering (ICO) raising a staggering $34M last year.

Since then, they have been busy with various projects around the world developing blockchain technology that allows users to trade spare energy between themselves, such as solar power on your roof. A big idea.

One such project is with Thai developer Sansiri’s T77 precinct in Bangkok, which includes a shopping centre, international school, serviced apartments and a dental hospital.

Renewable energy generator BCPG have installed solar generation and storage infrastructure, and the Thai government’s Metropolitan Electricity Authority is supplying the power grid to connect the buildings, as well as additional grid power.

The power generated in the development is then managed by Power Ledger, with the system allocating shares of the energy to each building, as well as facilitating the automatic trading of energy between buildings, depending on how much is being used.

The trading process is managed on their blockchain platform, allowing for transparent, secure and near instantaneous payments to be made.

The entire undertaking is underpinned by distributed energy resources, that is power generation sources that aren’t traditional grid power (such as a building’s own solar panels).

This latest stage in the company’s growth comes after Power Ledger cofounder and Chair Dr Jemma Green was recently recognised as WA’s Fintech Entrepreneur of the Year, and an AFR Top 100 Women of Influence Award.

For the record, WA seem to be under represented in the 100, with only 3 other women making the list: Moneycatcha’s Ruth Hatherley, ‘Aunty’ Gail Allison JP, founder and manager of Kindy Link, Nganggawalli Aboriginal Health Centre and Catia Malaquias, lawyer, founder & board director of Starting With Julius.

Making vision a reality

Power Ledger’s Head of Business Development, Vinod Tiwari told Startup News this kind of venture is exactly what the company set out to achieve.

“The project really demonstrates the real vision of Power Ledger, which is about co-creating these communities which are underpinned by power systems which eventually enable cheaper, zero carbon and resilient energy,” he said.

“If we can do that in the middle of one of the most crowded urban environments in the world, then [we] can do it anywhere.”

Thailand leads the way

Thailand has quickly become a global leader in renewable energy, with the International Renewable Energy Agency reporting the country’s existing oil and gas resources could be depleted in the next ten years.

The nation now looks set to surpass their 2015 goal of generating 30 per cent of their energy from renewable sources by 2036.

Vinod said while Thailand is an early adopter of the technology, they aren’t the only ones interested.

“It is widely understood that the future of energy markets is heavily reliant on distributed energy resources,” he said.

“Various regulators and policy makers are now looking at how best to integrate these distributed energy resources into mainstream policy.

“There is a lot of learning from various levels from regulators through to actual policy makers by actually implementing these projects.”

Lessons to be learnt

Vinod said that while MEA wasn’t charging for the use of their infrastructure, one of the key issues the trial hopes to resolve is how much utilities should charge for the use of their network.

“People who are part of peer-to-peer energy trades are trading within a close-by environment with each other, so they are not using the big transmission infrastructure,” he said.

“The standard governance framework that exists at the moment is designed as if every kilowatt hour used at the consumption point is travelling from the large power station through big transmission infrastructure and then coming through distribution lines.

“When peer-to-peer energy trades are taking place, it’s probably one neighbour trading energy with another neighbour, or someone down the street, so they are only using small portions of the infrastructure.

“So while there is understanding pretty much across the energy industry that there should be a different pricing structure for these trades, they haven’t really figured out exactly how to create that pricing model.”

Power Ledger, BCPG and Sansiri aren’t taking any time to rest after this roll-out, with plans to work on 31 new projects by 2021.

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Feature Image: Uthai Uthaisangsuk (COO, Sansiri), Vinod Tiwari (Head of Business Development, Power Ledger), David Martin (Managing Director, Power Ledger), Somchai Kasemlonnapa (BCPG Vice President Center of Digital Energy).

Learn more about Power Ledger and Australia’s 100 AFR Women of Influence.