A team of engineers, software developers, energy analysts and renewables developers have joined forces to build a ground-breaking locally generated electricity microgrid in the New York borough of Brooklyn, with the ultimate goal of allowing locally connected residents to buy and sell renewable energy from neighbourhood rooftop solar installations.
The Brooklyn Microgrid – a joint venture between LO3 Energy and Consensus Systems – will use a platform called the TransActive Grid, which uses software and hardware to enable its members to engage in trading energy from each other, known as peer-to-peer trading.
The first phase of the project will essentially connect houses with solar panels with other nearby houses that want to buy renewable energy.
From that point, a desginated “distributed energy development group” – including the Park Slope and Gowanus communities of Brooklyn – will be connected by constantly updated “cryptographically secure list” that is stored on devices at each location.
Software called Ethereum will be used to monitor the energy in and energy out of each point of the network – this is explained in more detail by the team in the video below.
This “blockchain-based” technology allows for the platform to be securely monitored and for participants to automate their transactions in the local energy ecosystem using the existing grid infrastructure.
Essentially, this means individuals with rooftop solar can become local energy providers by selling their excess generation to other microgrid members, while grid members without solar, but who want to use renewable energy can import that excess energy at a reasonable cost. It also help ensure security of supply, protecting households from network power outages.
“This whole concept benefits the area you live in,” said TAG co-founder Joseph Lubin. “By buying energy locally, rather than from a national entity, the money goes back into the pockets of people in the community.
“We’ll install the transactive platform which pretty much runs itself, whereby energy is automatically priced based on things consumers care about. It’s pretty hands off – as we think that will suit consumers best.
In future, though, Lubin says the group plans to enable people to set preferences to maximise savings, maximise benefit to the community, and potentially sell energy cheaper to lower-income residents.
“What we’re focused on doing is lowering the barrier to entry for this energy market,” says another of the Brooklyn Microgrid founders, Lawrence Orsini, the video. “Smaller and smaller generators, you with your PV system, can participate in the production of energy and benefit from the sales of energy, or storage, or whatever it might be, in this transactive market.”