EDF launches blockchain-enabled renewables trading pilot


Energy customers in a housing estate in the south of London, England, will soon be trading solar power amongst themselves, thanks to a blockchain pilot project by Repowering London, and University College London.

The project, dubbed “Project CommUNITY” is part of Brixton Energy Solar 1, a peer-to-peer (P2P) trading platform, using electricity from a rooftop solar installation at the estate, Elmore House in Brixton, London.

Power will be used by residents of the estate and stored in domestic batteries for trading.

A consumer-facing app is to be introduced, facilitating trading, while transactions will rely on blockchain technologies for tracking trades.

The project is expected to start in the first quarter of 2019 and run through to October in an eight-month trial. The project was first mentioned in mid-2017 as one of Ofgem’s Regulatory Sandbox projects.

Current regulations only permit customers to purchase electricity from a single party, intrinsically prohibiting peer-to-peer trading, however Ofgem is considering changes to regulations as the energy sector evolves.

Xavier Mamo, EDF Energy’s R&D’s director affirmed the utility’s commitment to sharing the benefits offered by new technologies. “By collaborating with our partners and using blockchain technology, this project in Brixton aims to show how small communities in dense urban areas could benefit from a low carbon and local energy system in a new and transformative way.”

Similar P2P trading projects have been piloted in various global markets at aggregated household or small business levels, with the US storage and software controls company EnSync performing commercial pilots in Hawaii.

Recently in mainland Europe, storage company Sonnen, in partnership with grid operator TenneT, trialled blockchain-based energy trading between customers in Northern and southern Germany and neighbouring Holland.

Australia also completed its first ever peer-to-peer power-trade between residential properties in August 2018.