Blockchain marketplace for PV power trading launched in Switzerland

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From pv magazine Germany.

A blockchain-based marketplace for solar power in Walenstadt, near St. Gallen in Switzerland has had a successful start: In the first two weeks of this month, the 37 participating households and a retirement home sourced a quarter of their electricity demand from their neighbors.

On sunny days, the rate rose to 37% and well over 32% of the energy generated was traded in the neighborhood, as generators consumed just under half, with around 18% fed into the network of utility the Walenstadt Water and Electricity Company.

The ‘Quartierstrom’, supported by Switzerland’s Federal Office of Energy, is being run by several Swiss universities and companies. The goal of the one-year test run is to develop a viable concept for the local sale of solar power.

A large proportion of the participants have PV systems and those who do not produce their own solar power can purchase locally generated energy from a neighbor.

Set your power price

According to the project partners, prosumers generate higher revenue from the sale of their electricity nearby than from its injection into the grid. Consumers are reportedly also attracted to trade, as they would pay less for electricity from a neighbor than from the utility.

Trades take place directly between participants and, using the portal, producers can set a minimum price and consumers a maximum. A mini computer with an integrated electricity meter and blockchain software was installed in participating households. These blockchain nodes issue bids for the purchase or sale of solar power every 15 minutes according to price settings and calculate – according to an auction mechanism – who receives the surcharge and at what price.

“The system is stable and the market works,” said Arne Meeuw from the Bosch IoT [Internet of Things] Lab at the University of St. Gallen, which is developing the system with researchers from the Bits to Energy Lab at ETH Zurich. “We were surprised at how often the participants logged into the portal to adjust their price limits or retrieve their trading data,” Meeuw said, adding some people would query data several times a day.