Blockchain a win-win for community power trade

The NSW Solar Bonus Scheme is coming to a close at the end of 2016.Those households currently on the 60c or 20c subsidised feed-in tariff for their Rooftop Solar PV are looking at how they can maximise benefits from their small-scale renewable energy systems after scheme end.Retail tariffs don’t look too promising with most offerings below 9c/kWh feed-in-tariff for electricity sold back into the grid.

Blockchain technology provides an opportunity to change the way we sell our surplus energy. Blockchain is the software behind bitcoin transactions. This technology is a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets before, during and after transactions, and it has the potential to ultimately transform everything.

Thanks to Bitcoin and Blockchain technology, peer-to-peer (P2P) trading of renewable energy such as solar PV is now possible. A community energy market using blockchain technology and smart contracts enables P2P trading for community members. The trade is also secureand automatic. Blockchain can be utilised to allow households with solar PV systems to sell their excess clean energy to their neighbour using the electricity grid. Electricity is sold by the Solar PV owner at a price greater than their retail tariff and bought by their neighbour for less than what they would pay for electricity from their retailer. This is a win-win.

The purchase of clean energy through electricity retailers (such as GreenPower), reduces greenhouse emissions, helps Australia transition to renewable energy and is good for the environment. However, as a process it is not necessarily transparent, local, nor community-centric.

Professor Tim Roberts is the director of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, University of Newcastle.Alec Roberts is the chair of the Steering Committee of Clean Energy Association of Newcastle and Surrounds.

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