WA trial to use blockchain technology to deliver smart energy – and water

A cutting edge project based in Fremantle, Western Australia, will trial the use of locally developed blockchain technology to deliver renewable energy and a sustainable water supply on an urban scale.
The trial – which is being supported by the Australian Energy Market Operator, WA utility Wester Power, and has won $8 million in grant funding from the federal government – will use the blockchain technology of local company, Power Ledger, to integrate distributed energy and water systems in the City of Fremantle.
These will include a large solar PV plant, distributed rooftop solar, a “precinct sized battery,” an electric vehicle charging station and precinct water treatment and capture systems.
Power Ledger’s blockchain program will provide the “transactional layer” for the solar assets, as well as the ownership model for the community owned battery, while project partner, Curtin University, will carry out the research underpinning the project.
“We will develop a smart metering, battery storage and blockchain trading system to allow energy and water efficiencies between critical dispersed infrastructures that would otherwise have required physical co-location,” said Curtin University Professor Greg Morrison, in a statement.
Other project partners include IT heavyweight CISCO; the CSIRO and Data61, who will lead megatrend analysis, risk analysis, statistical forecasting and systems modelling; and Murdoch University.
CSIRO will work to ensure the data generated by the project is well utilised by the community, project partners and municipal government. Murdoch University will provide research support on alternative district water supply and storage schemes that will be used to provide water, capacity and ancillary services to each other and the grid.
“We now have the opportunity to develop an entirely new precinct scale urban water system in Fremantle that will harmonise with the innovative Power Ledger Platform,” said Martin Anda, Murdoch’s academic chair of Environmental Engineering.
“I am thrilled with the prospect of commencing research, modelling and designing the novel water distribution infrastructure upgrades at Knutsford, through rainwater capture and wastewater recycling, with the City of Fremantle and the whole team,” he said.
Property developer Landcorp is also taking part in the project, to monitor the success of alternative water and energy systems that are connected to smart technology.
For Perth-based Power Ledger – which recently managed to raise more than $A34 million through its Token Generation Event, including $17 million in just 72 hours through an Initial Coin Offering – the trial is one of several it is taking part in around Australia, particularly as utilities start to investigate the benefits of peer-to-peer solar trading.
One such trial, launched in September with Origin Energy, aims to explore the benefits and challenges of peer-to-peer energy trading across the regulated network and, in particular, to prove the accuracy and security of energy trading via “cryptocurrency.”
Results of earlier WA trial of Power Ledger, involving 10 households and about 20 people on the Western Power network, is said to have showed that households could save $A600 a year on their electricity bills using peer-to-peer trading.
The Fremantle trial, however, will take the technology to another level.
“We’re excited to break ground on this truly novel project that utilises blockchain technology to orchestrate sustainable assets,” said Power Ledger chair and co-founder Jemma Green.
The project will span over two years and will commence within the next two months. The federal government funding – which is part of the Smart Cities and Suburbs program – will be met with $5.6 million in finance from the project partners.

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