Solar & Blockchain Platforms
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Individuals can generate their power through residential solar. However, often when a solar array produces more than it needs, the utility pays less per watt than they charge their customers.
This excess energy goes onto the grid and then on to neighbors’ homes in the area. Neighbors who don’t have solar, but want to participate in renewable generation, often have to pay extra to make sure the utility produces enough renewable power to power their home.
Setting up a blockchain system benefits both those with residential solar and their neighbors. It benefits solar homeowners by allowing them to have a fair rate for their excess energy. Then, interested neighbors can purchase this renewable power at this lower rate.
Types of Solar Blockchains
Blockchain technology stores each transaction in a block of information with a unique linear timestamp, which differentiates each block in the network of transactions. Multiple computers store the same data, providing proof of each block’s accuracy and place in the lineup within the blocks of information, making it far more difficult to hack.
The main pros of blockchain technology include transparency, security, and traceability. However, the implementation of blockchain technology can happen in several ways. The four blockchain types include public, private, hybrid, and federated.
Public Blockchain Technology
Public blockchain came out as the first generation blockchain technology. It allows anyone to join and complete transactions without going through permissions, which means anyone with an internet connection has access. This blockchain type works best for situations such as voting and fundraising, where those involved value transparency.
Private Blockchain & the Solutions it Provides
Private blockchains use a closed network system, which only allows approved transactions controlled by one entity. While it provides transparency and security to members, not everyone can see it. These private blockchains also work well for companies that use blockchain internally. Some examples include supply management, internal voting, and asset ownership.
Federated or Consortium Blockchain Applications
This blockchain option has both public and private features. However, it isn’t open to the public. Federated blockchain allows companies to keep proprietary information away from the public eye while allowing for more transparency within. Unlike a private blockchain, it has multiple organizations that manage it, which decentralizes the system and increases transaction security. Some real-world applications include activities that require internal cooperation around several different companies, like food tracking, research, and banking.
Hybrid Blockchain in Action
While similar to federated or consortium blockchains, hybrid blockchains have a little more transparency. It uses a closed network while still allowing restricted public access. Some applications of hybrid blockchain include real estate, retail and financial markets.
NREL research and application of Blockchains in the Energy Sector
The NREL has developed software called Forsee. This software helps facilitate peer-to-peer business between neighbors by informing non-solar-generating neighbors when it’s cheaper to purchase power from their solar neighbors and completes the transaction for them.
While blockchain tech promotes the idea that homeowners would take energy into their own hands, the application of this technology will probably seem different initially. Since utilities own and maintain the electrical grid, they play a role in the future of renewable energy peer-to-peer blockchain transactions.
What this will look like in the future will vary from one utility company to the next, but we know one thing is certain: With our current energy infrastructure, utilities will still play a part in this technology application within the energy sector.