The Transactive Grid – Enabling an End-To-End Market Services Framework Using Blockchain
Smart Grid Demonstration
University of Waterloo
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Alectra Utilities Corporation
GridExchange is a blockchain-based platform that enables energy exchange between a utility and their customers. The platform allows utilities the ability to engage customer-owned distributed energy resources (DERs) to respond to power grid needs and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The goal was to demonstrate the value of DERs providing energy services on the electrical grid with an end-to-end transaction software platform, based on enterprise blockchain technology, that provides near real-time transparency, tracking and management of DERs, as well as the creation of a marketplace for exchanging rewards earned from participation for other goods and services. Such a platform enables DERs to contribute to grid services, energy markets, and reduce GHGs, while also appropriately compensating customers for the value their DERs bring to the grid and society.
The pilot successfully demonstrated the value of customer energy resources for the electrical grid. Alectra, anticipating high electricity demand, issued requests for participants via the GridExchange app to provide simulated market services including EV charging, reducing GHG emissions through solar PV, and balancing the grid through energy storage. Residential customers from Vaughan, Markham, Richmond Hill, Barrie, and Hamilton participated in the live trial of the energy marketplace. Customers received compensation through a virtual currency that was created to support participation, called “GxRewards”. Four local business were signed up to help participating customers redeem their GxRewards for goods and services: Chuck’s Bar & Grill, Grand Tour Autospa, TruBliss Wellness & Spa, and Pizzaville. All aspects of market participation were transacted through and recorded on the blockchain hyperledger platform.
Benefits to Canada
This project developed a scalable platform using blockchain technology to facilitate DER participation in energy markets. The results support future development of standards, regulations and policies for DER participation in energy markets. Customers are empowered with greater energy choices, control and autonomy, and new sources of revenue are created for customers to earn money and rewards from existing DERs in their homes. Participating merchants attract customers to their businesses through exchange of GxReward tokens, leading to economic benefits. Grid operators have increased visibility over DERs in the field, and can unlock the value DERs they bring to the grid. Leveraging behind-the-meter assets helps integrate system planning with Non-Wires alternatives to defer new infrastructure costs. Communities see increased energy reliability and resilience from decentralized systems, and ratepayers see lowered energy costs due to reduction in electrical infrastructure investments. Additionally, GHG emissions are reduced directly through reduction in peak demand and proliferation of solar PV, and indirectly through enabling EV penetration. This innovative and customer-centric business model boosts stakeholder engagement in electricity sector issues, and the project and its learnings contribute to training and development of highly qualified personnel and other stakeholders.
Alectra is exploring partnership opportunities to help deploy the transactive energy platform to the market and allow our customers to leverage the platform at a greater scale. Performance tests were run with various numbers of simulated residential users. Bottlenecks were found and fixes were applied to help increase system scalability. Recommendations have been identified to enhance the architecture so that it can be managed and scaled more easily and cost-effectively while still leveraging blockchain appropriately. The next steps for the technology development will be to optimize the architecture to reduce operation costs and complexity and increase performance and scalability.
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