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Renewables, sensors connected in wireless blockchain ‘proof of concept’ demonstration

The demonstrator project connects solar PV generation with environmental sensors wirelessly.

The demonstrator project connects solar PV generation with environmental sensors wirelessly.

Solar panels and environmental sensors have been connected wirelessly to a blockchain-powered network in a proof of concept demonstration this morning.

The feat, achieved by energy blockchain non-profit Energy Web Foundation and wireless communications provider Wirepas is being demonstrated at today’s European Utility Week event in Vienna.

The project has seen solar panels and sensors from at least three separate hardware manufacturers connected to form a decentralised wireless mesh network, communicating through the Energy Web Chain.

Devices connected to the chain have their identities verified and their outputs certified, meaning that they could potentially engage in transactional behaviour through blockchain-enabled smart contracts if an end user was also connected to the chain.

Claire Henly, managing director at Energy Web Foundation, said that bridging the gap between digital blockchains and physical electricity generation and grids, coupled with real-time balancing of supply and demand, was one of the “unique challenges” that separated blockchain-for-energy solutions and cryptocurrencies, which have been adopted worldwide.

“This proof of concept bridges those two worlds and the implications are very exciting. This allows us to evolve from an energy blockchain as a glorified ledger for transaction settlement data, for example, to a much more dynamic environment in which all manner of grid edge devices become direct active participants in energy markets,” she said.

Thomas Weisshaupt, director of smart energy at Wirepas, however said the demonstration project unlocked a “world of possibilities we’re just beginning to explore”.

Blockchain is one of a number of emerging technologies that firms are attempting to introduce to energy markets across the world given its potential to overhaul trading and transactional capabilities, enabling peer-to-peer trading networks to take off.

The likes of Electron in the UK and LO3 in the US have been amongst the early proponents of the technology, and it has been adopted in projects such as Centrica’s Local Energy Marketplace trial in Cornwall and some of the trials underway within Ofgem’s regulatory sandbox.

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