Power Ledger chairman Jemma Green.

Perth blockchain tech for energy revolution

Monday, 15 August, 2016 - 05:29

A move towards usage of blockchains, the engine behind bitcoins, in the energy sector could have benefits for poles and wires operators as the industry faces increasing disruption, according to a proponent.

Power Ledger chairman and 40u40 winner Jemma Green said the Perth based start up will be using blockchains to track point to point movement of electricity, with a trial soon to get under way at a National Lifestyle Village in Busselton.

It will make it easier for owners of distributed generators, such as rooftop solar power, to work out exactly where their electricity is being supplied when using multiple counterparties.

Ms Green, who is also a City of Perth councillor, said blockchain technology was already being used to establish the provenance of wine and was being trialled by the ASX for immediate settlement of stock transactions.

It would also enable selling of electricity in a way that is not currently possible, she said.

“The way I think about the blockchain is that it's a common database to all counterparties,” she said.

“What (this) technology enables you to do is transact electricity between one or multiple counterparties.

“At the point of consumption there will be a contractual settlement.”

The upcoming trial will be a virtual operation, with a future physical trial planned in the near future.

Ms Green highlighted the potential impact of the technological disruption underway in the electricity industry, comparing it to citizen journalism.

“I call this the birth of citizen utilities, citizen power stations,” she said.

“Network operators see this as an opportunity to maintain utilisation of the grid.

“At the moment war is emerging between battery storage and the grid.

“If consumers store all their surplus electricity in the battery,  the grid is going to decline in utilisation.

“This (the blockchain tracking) will encourage people to sell it across the grid because they can monetise it.”

Future Effect consultants David Martin and Jenni Conroy are also part of the team while technology company Ledger Assets will provide the underpinning software.

“Ledger Assets partner with subject matter experts in particular sectors to provide bespoke block chain solutions,” Ms Green said.

Examples include the Uproov technology incorporating blockchain into parking fines to make legal fines more difficult to dispute and the Enome medical records storage system.