Grid+ is combining blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to build a software and hardware solution that makes the electrical grid smarter, more resilient, and more economical for consumers. Astreamlined business model enables Grid+ to offer near-wholesale electricity prices instead of the 100% markup that traditional power utilities charge in most states.
Grid+ Platform: Leveraging Blockchain Technology for Clean Energy
Alex Miller | Grid+
Can you tell us a bit about Grid+ and how it relates to the alternative energy industry?
We are building the world's first blockchain-based energy retailer with market-driven pricing. Using the Ethereum blockchain allows us to settle in real-time, which reduces costs considerably. It also enables a future of p2p payments for decentralized energy production/consumption. In a nutshell, we want energy prices to reflect supply and demand and we want to build a smarter grid.
What is the current state of renewables on the grid?
In the US, we are seeing photovoltaics become more common. This is happening for various reasons, but the net result is that people are adding a lot of generative capacity to the grid. The problem with this is that we get a lot of production during the day, but it quickly falls off as the sun sets. To make matters worse, this production drop off is generally at a time when energy is most in demand, as people are getting home from work and turning things on. This would be mitigated if we had more batteries because they could store solar power generated during the day and sell when it was most needed.
Why aren't there more batteries?
Batteries are a natural arbitrage mechanism, but the problem is that retailers generally provide flat pricing for energy sent back to the grid. So while the economic rationale to purchase solar panels is fairly obvious, you don't get any economic benefit from a battery. This control mechanism is wasted because there is no reason to store energy and sell it at any time versus another.
How do utilities normally reward solar generation?
Typically a utility would read the net meter output of your house on an interval. If you put more energy into the grid than you took from it, they would credit that to your account. The dollar amount credited is based on the number of kWh you put out and again the pricing is flat.
How does Grid+ change this dynamic?
The first part is the same - we read your meter and reward you for the amount of electricity you put back into the grid. However, we reward based on the market price. Under this framework, a rational economic actor would store solar power during the day and then sell it back to the grid during peak demand. This means there is now an economic case to be made for batteries as control mechanisms.
How does Grid+ expect to change the grid at large?
We expect many more networked smart devices that interact with each other to come online. With the rise of electric vehicles, this will get even more interesting. We expect much more fine-grained pricing of electricity and many more actors on the system that are behaving rationally. In short, we expect the grid to become more robust and more efficient as a transactive smart layer gets built on top of it.
How and when will Grid+ be implemented in the future?
We are starting in Texas next year. We plan to grow into that market for the foreseeable future, after which we may explore other deregulated markets in the US and abroad. We are also actively pursuing partnerships with existing, cutting-edge utilities in other regions. For example, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has partnered with us to explore integration of the Grid+ system in Japan through a pilot smart-utility.
About Alex Miller
Alex is a software engineer with a background in applied physics. After earning his master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin, he worked as a software engineer at a financial technology startup whose system was interfaced with conventional payments infrastructure. Although he had been familiar with cryptocurrencies for some time, Alex became immersed in the blockchain space when he learned about Ethereum and realized the impact it could have on large, established industries. He is excited to participate in the growth of blockchain technology.
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