Buildings in Brooklyn are connected to a microgrid, allowing participants to buy and sell renewable energy from residential rooftop solar installations
An experimental energy trading project –called the Brooklyn Microgrid- is currently running in Brooklyn, New York. Residents and businesses are connected to a virtual trading platform, where energy produced by solar panels installed on their rooftops is shared locally. These small-scale energy producers can sell their excess electricity to neighboring homes, corporations and other customers who want to claim green energy use. The aim of ‘Brooklyn Microgrid’ is to create a connected network for local energy, combining renewable energy and the peer-to-peer economy, and although there are just 50 participants right now, the idea seems very promising.
The system, built on blockchain, gives participants the ability to complete secure transactions and create a business based on energy sharing. In the future, such a microgrid would allow users to bypass the conventional electric company energy supply and provide autonomy even during broad power failures. The project, designed by LO3 Energy and Siemens, is a precursor of decentralized energy systems that can work in tandem with the traditional large-scale grid or even completely off-the-grid. LO3 managed to create this growing network of participants over the past year by using Google Earth to identify homes with rooftop solar installations and then asking them one-by-one to join.
However, Lawrence Orsini, LO3’s chief executive, said the state still needs to determine how to define his company and its network of participants before it could get its market up and running, hopefully by June. “There’s nothing technically infeasible about what we’re doing. In order for transactive energy to take off as a whole, regulators have to be comfortable that markets can actually work this way and, more importantly, that people want markets like this”, he said.
“We need to make energy a product and a service that people can purchase on their own and not rely on a large centralized entity,” Mr. Golden, one of the project’s participants said. “The long-term goal is to be at least partially independent of the grid in emergencies, which was a reasonable argument to join,” said another participant Patrick Schnell. “Hopefully it will expand and more people will join and it will be more worthwhile”, he added.
The project includes plans to create a roughly five-square-block area — ideally around a collection of public housing projects or near a hospital — that could operate independently in case of a power failure. “It’s a recognition of energy needs beyond your own,” Mr. Golden said. “There’s a microgrid of our community, and that’s great, but the hospitals, the clinics, the schools, large housing complexes — you can feed the energy where it needs to go.”
Peer-to-peer vs current energy system
According to Richard L. Kauffman, the governor’s chairman of energy and finance who is leading that effort, the ideal power system is one that combines large power plants and transmission lines with clusters of smaller-scale producer-consumers, “where electrons can flow in more than one direction and supply and demand of electricity is dynamic — and that’s different than the grid is today.” Peer-to-peer power sharing is consistent with that vision, he said, though a number of regulatory changes are necessary for it to take off. Interest in peer-to-peer trading networks is growing, and other similar actions are also taking place in Australia, Bangladesh and Germany.
Source: NY Times