SonnWende+ Efficient solutions for photovoltaic energy management based on block chain technology
Blockchain technology was first used in a distributed, open server network for the transfer of value with Bitcoin in 2008 and for many years its potential was only recognized by a few insiders. At the latest since Ethereum (2013) was described as a new blockchain platform, it has become clear in many expert circles that this new technology will not only substantially change the financial system but will bring serious changes to all economic and organizational structures. Compared to the state of the art in the field of classic IT applications, blockchain technology enables fast, secure clearing of purchased and provided services between machines with the possibility of complete automation without further interfaces. This offers huge potential for making energy management and trading more efficient and decentralized.
Self-consumption of photovoltaics has become interesting for many end customers due to the sharp drop in the system costs of photovoltaics in recent years and the corresponding subsidy systems. In order to increase or optimize potential self-consumption, there is a discernible trend towards the installation of PV storage systems and the use of flexible consumer devices. The flexible consumers with the highest potential include electric vehicles, heat pumps, and heating rods for water heating. Electromobility is an important building block for the energy transition in two areas: on the one hand, it directly reduces the consumption of fossil fuels, and on the other hand, the vehicles' batteries provide the flexibility necessary for an electricity grid, based on renewable energy sources. Heat pumps in combination with PV systems can trigger positive synergy effects, as locally produced electricity can be consumed directly in the heat pump. Maximum self-consumption can be achieved if heating times can be adapted to the PV yield profile using local flexibilities. The use of energy from communal generation plants could be regulated by private contracts. This is an application area for blockchain technology. By installing smart meters, the necessary data can be evaluated by the grid operator and a virtual billing of the community plant to several customers with fixed shares can be carried out.
The SonnWende+ project analyzed blockchain technology in the context of renewable electric power feed-in and flexibility in the act4.energy innovation laboratory in southern Burgenland as an enabler for future innovative service concepts. The aim was to explore new and efficient service concepts and underlying technologies for energy management and energy trading.
Innovative methods for maximizing photovoltaic self-consumption at building level and within energy communities, blockchain-based billing of fully automated charging processes for electric vehicles and lending-based crowdfunding models were designed, developed, and validated. Through co-creation processes with stakeholders and users, their requirements were obtained and considered in the development. The act4.energy innovation lab, on whose infrastructure parts of the blockchain solution were tested, has a virtual power plant on the electrical side, to which a storage cluster, PV systems, charging stations, and other flexible loads are connected. In addition, a coupling to the heat and mobility sector was created. In this context, further blockchain application possibilities emerged, ranging from a bonus system in the form of an energy account for regionally generated energy across energy sources, to the internal pooling of the virtual power plant, to the question of the dynamic use of energy from several PV systems by the residents of the energy community.
The use cases identified and investigated in the project, as well as the co-creation process running in parallel, have shown that there is enormous potential for applications based on blockchain technology in the energy sector, both for specialized applications for experts and applications at household level. In the blockchain-based investment model for photovoltaic systems of private customers, the duration of repayment depends on optimal dimensioning on the one hand and on the consumption profile of the household on the other. By using private (locally installed) energy management systems, self-consumption can be further increased through the optimal control of consumers and the use of home storage systems. Further potential for the optimal use of locally generated energy is offered by joining energy communities, which can increase local self-consumption through peer-to-peer energy trading and the use of community systems. Sector coupling is a promising option to maximize PV self-consumption. It has been shown that the Honey Badger BFT consensus algorithm can be used in the established parity client and delivers comparatively high performance and other highly desirable properties needed for various specific applications in the energy sector. The tests performed show good prospects for the application of the Honey Badger BFT consensus algorithm in real live Blockchain applications, which are not limited to the energy sector, but can also drive applications that were previously considered impossible. As the use cases show, the blockchain offers considerable facilitation and optimization possibilities for the future in diverse constellations. However, the various possible applications are also accompanied by several legal requirements that must be complied with. In the area of energy communities, the use of blockchain and the introduction of smart contracts will be made possible to a greater extent and can accordingly contribute to optimizations in energy communities.
Some of the use cases investigated in the project, such as the interaction less charging of electric vehicles, have the potential for broad commercial application, but research and development work is still required, especially in reliability and ease of use. The simulations carried out were able to show great potential for increasing PV self-consumption in energy communities. In addition, further potentials could be identified through the application of sector coupling regarding the integration of heat pumps for the provision of heating energy; here, there is a need for further research to optimize these potentials. It should be noted that the building-side heating systems have a high efficiency and low system temperatures, so that the operation of heat pumps or a connection to a low-temperature district heating network supplied with heat pumps is economically possible. With the use of blockchain technology, legal questions are raised, and specifications are affected from a wide variety of aspects, especially in the energy sector, which must be complied with. A major challenge is a confrontation with an abundance of legal regulations, as well as the constant balancing of various interests (especially data protection). Blockchain technology can be applied on a large scale and thus contribute to the energy transition through its use in an energy community.
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
Project or cooperation partners
- Energieinstitut an der Johannes Kepler Universität Linz
- lab10 collective eG