Flat-pack furniture giant IKEA has reinforced its renewables credentials, with a research project to demonstrate the advantages of combining rooftop solar with blockchain technology in energy communities.
The company’s Copenhagen research and design laboratory is carrying out ‘playful research’ project Solarville to demonstrate how small communities can have access to decentralized, affordable and accessible clean energy.
The project sees small solar panels and blockchain tech applied to a miniature wooden village built to 1:50 scale. Ikea said blockchain companies including Bloc, Blocktech, WeMoveIdeas India and Temporal are taking part, and their technologies were used to log and manage energy flow, verify and record transactions and self-execute functions under certain conditions.
“The miniature wooden village is a working prototype wherein some households generate their own renewable energy using solar panels to capture the rays of an artificial sun extended above the installation,” the furniture giant said. “Other households automatically purchase the excess electricity generated in the community directly from the producer, using blockchain technology.”
The company said the concept is fully scalable. “Neighbors can automatically purchase the excess electricity generated in their local community,” it added.
LED lights across the project in real time show how the purchase and sale of electricity is made in the peer-to-peer blockchain network while enabling visualization of how power is flowing through different households. ‘Rooftop’ solar panels were powered by an artificial sun above the table that hosts the miniature community.
Ikea sells residential PV systems in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K. In a recent interview with Signe Antvorskov Krag – global development leader for Ikea’s Home Solar business – pv magazine editor Becky Beetz discussed Ikea’s PV business models.