The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) on Friday announced it will support a feasibility study in a blockchain-based virtual microgrid.
It will provide AUD 370,000 (USD 279,000/EUR 231,000) for the AUD-775,000 project that will explore the feasibility of creating a virtual microgrid in the Latrobe Valley, Gippsland region in the Australian state of Victoria. The study will cover up to 200 dairy farms, more than 100 households and some 20 other commercial and industrial customers.
The project is led by Brooklyn, New York-based energy company LO3 Energy, with partners including AusNet Services, Sustainable Melbourne Fund, Dairy Australia and Siemens.
Participants would have a combination of solar, battery and smart devices and would be linked in an internet-of-things-based marketplace while using AusNet's distribution network. The virtual microgrid will feature LO3's Exergy peer-to-peer energy trading platform that uses blockchain technology to enable participants to buy and sell locally produced renewable energy.
"With significant increases in distributed energy resources across the network, there is an emerging opportunity to optimise these systems through orchestration," commented ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht.
"A large focus of LO3’s project is capturing the benefits from avoided network investments combined with optimising energy consumption to significantly improve the economic outcomes and increase the generation sourced from renewable energy for the Latrobe Valley region," Frischknecht said.
The study, expected to be completed by end of 2018, could lead to the roll out of the pilot microgrid in Gippsland next year.
Farmers would have the opportunity to take part at no upfront cost via loans from the Sustainable Melbourne Fund, repaid through council rates, according to the announcement.