A common vision for the future of the nation’s energy grid involves homeowners selling unused power generated from rooftop solar panels to others in their communities, and working together to help ensure the reliability, resiliency, and security of the power grid everyone uses. Sounds great in theory. But how can the grid manage such complex energy transactions at scale?
Several emerging solutions to this opportunity rely on blockchain technology. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are evaluating the use of blockchain for transactive energy using hardware in the laboratory’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) and it may reshape the world of electric systems operation.
“Distributing grid operational decision-making is revolutionary,” said Dane Christensen, a mechanical engineer in NREL’s Residential Buildings Research Group and a principal investigator on a blockchain pilot project. “It’s really like somebody in the 1980s expounding on the economic opportunity of the Internet. Everyone would have laughed at you. That’s kind of what’s happening right now with blockchain applications—the foundational tools for another technology revolution are emerging, and this could be one of them.”
The Potential for Blockchain in the Energy Sector
For the uninitiated, blockchain serves as a distributed digital record of actions agreed and performed by multiple parties. Blockchain’s primary value is providing mathematical proof about the state of data, so that different parties to a transaction can agree on the outcome even if they do not know or trust each other. Though…