Blockchain pilot harnesses residential storage and electric vehicles

A trio of companies is trialling blockchain solutions to support the integration of renewable energies in Germany and the Netherlands.
Published: Tue 16 May 2017

With the growing levels of intermittent renewable energies being integrated to the grid, new solutions are needed to meet the stability challenges on the grid and maintain security of supply.

One consequence is transportation bottlenecks, which have been met by transmission system operators (TSOs) by intervening in both conventional and renewable power generation, by redispatching energy using grid reserves and regulating wind farms – effectively reducing the amount of power that has to be transported.

But these measures are costly. For example, in Germany in 2016 alone, these interventions cost approximately €800m, which ultimately are passed on to power consumers in the form of network charges.

On the demand side to date, the main source of flexibility has been the large industrial and commercial customers. But with the growing numbers of residential storage systems and electric vehicles (EVs), potential new sources of flexibility are emerging.

In order to test these, the European transmission system operator (TSO) TenneT has launched pilots in its two countries of operations, Germany and the Netherlands, to explore the integration of these technologies with a blockchain-based solution.

“These pilot projects are part of TenneT’s broader strategy of preparing the electricity system to accommodate the growing volume of renewable energy,” commented TenneT CEO Mel Kroon, in a statement.

Residential storage in Germany

In the blockchain pilot in Germany, TenneT is partnering with battery provider Sonnen, with the focus on reducing transportation bottlenecks and the need for emergency measures such as wind park regulation.

Sonnen will make available a network of linked residential storage batteries to help reduce the imposition of limitations on wind energy at times of insufficient transport capacity.

The blockchain presents the operator from TenneT with a view of the available pool of flexibility, ready to activate at the push of the button, after which the blockchain records the batteries' contribution.

“The future of power generation will be composed of millions of small, decentralised power sources, including both prosumers and consumers,” said Philipp Schröder, Managing Director and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Sonnen.

“The blockchain technology is what makes mass simultaneous exchange between all these parties possible in the first place, and is thus the missing link to a decentralised, completely CO2-free energy future.”

The interlinked batteries can absorb and release the excess power in seconds, as needed, to support the reduction of the energy transportation bottlenecks in the grid.

EVs in the Netherlands

In the pilot in the Netherlands, TenneT is partnering with renewable energy supplier Vandebron, with the focus on maintaining the balance on the high voltage grid.

Vandebron will work with customers who own an EV to make available the capacity of their car batteries – without compromising the battery availability – to help TenneT balance the grid.

The blockchain enables each vehicle to participate by recording their availability and their action in response to signals from TenneT.

Blockchain pilots for TSOs

In an interview with Engerati, ENTSO-E Secretary General Laurent Schmitt identified blockchain as a key technology for the future digital TSO.

These projects by TenneT are a first and the latest in a growing range of use cases to which blockchain is being applied.

Once the concept has been proven to work, it will be launched and the TenneT Energy Community will be open for other parties to join.

The digital process of verifying and documenting the performance values of the distributed flexible energy devices is delivered using IBM Blockchain, built with Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain framework implementation and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by the Linux Foundation.

IBM will develop the platform to ensure the verifiability and transparency of the transactions of the EVs and small-scale batteries.

The solution has the potential to play a significant role in ensuring that transactions between market players are transparent and verifiable, which is expected to considerably simplify how suppliers of locally distributed flexible energy will provide services to support power grid operators in future.

The blockchain facilitates and streamlines implementation, fulfilling TenneT’s requirements for data security and precision while ensuring restricted access and privacy.

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