Blockchain pilot reveals potential of decentralized home storage systems

In the June 2017 issue, IPPSO FACTO reported on a demonstration project between IBM, European transmission operator Tennet and storage specialist sonnen to manage integration of intermittent renewable energy sources. A May 10 report from sonnen says the pilot has proven successful.

TenneT CEO Manon van Beek “We’ve shown for the first time how it’s technically feasible to utilize blockchain technology so households can stabilize the power grid via their home storage systems. Because the results of our pilot project are so promising we intend to examine other blockchain projects more in-depth,” announced Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT. She envisages tremendous potential in the use of battery storage systems to render the electricity grid more flexible, considering that Germany may have decentralized PV battery storage systems with a total output of up to 10,000 megawatts by 2030 (Grid Development Plan 2030/version 2019). This would be more than the output of all pumped storage power plants currently installed in Germany. In order for small, decentralized units to effectively stabilize the electricity system, van Beek believes, the regulatory framework must be developed further and the right incentives established for such flexibility solutions.

Sonnen Managing Director Jean-Baptiste Cornefert “The project has enabled us to demonstrate how the networked storage systems of our sonnen community can cope with not only primary balancing power but also redispatch. As a virtual battery can be formed in this way at almost any point in the electricity grid, thereby making it independent of location, this technology is the key to a new energy system requiring the utmost flexibility. In the power grid of the future with an ever greater share of renewable energies, networks comprising home storage systems will assume many more of the grid services that conventional power stations are predominantly used for at present,” states Jean-Baptiste Cornefert, Managing Director of sonnen eServices.

          In the pilot project, TenneT used a virtual power station comprising home storage systems specially provided by sonnen for this. The blockchain solution networked in this way was developed by IBM. Tests served to ascertain the extent to which emergency measures such as curtailing wind farms can be reduced in the event of bottlenecks in the power grid. The intelligent charge management of the battery storage systems adapted itself individually to the respective situation in the TenneT grid, the storage batteries either taking in or giving out excess electricity in a matter of seconds, as and when required.

          In practical terms, sonnen continually communicated to TenneT how much capacity the home storage systems can provide together for redispatch at specific times. If TenneT accepted one of these automatically generated offers, the sonnen batteries were charged with surplus energy in a region where, for instance, there was too much wind energy. To maintain equilibrium, other sonnen batteries simultaneously discharged the same amount of energy in a region where it was actually required. This process was documented in a blockchain in real time. To this end, the measured values of all sonnen batteries were transmitted to IBM’s Hyperledger blockchain. This means every kilowatt hour provided – whether stored or discharged – was identified uniquely. Each kilowatt hour received a cryptographic signature for this, which is unique and transparent and which can be used for settlement.

          The pilot project revealed how blockchain technology has the potential to become a key technology when it comes to the efficient provision of grid-stabilizing measures from storage batteries and other decentralized storage systems such as electric car batteries. Amongst other things, this relies on the blockchain technology being able to establish a manipulation-proof environment (private blockchain), in which transactions involving millions of individual systems are automated so they can be performed with low transaction costs. The innovative technology thus enables a decentralized data exchange that is just as fast as it is secure, while ensuring that the operation of individual units is coordinated with signals from the distribution system operators. As the use of a large number of small decentralized storage systems for stabilizing the power grid is only possible with coordination across grid operators, TenneT will collaborate closely with distribution system operators in the advanced development of its blockchain pilots.

The blockchain solution developed by IBM is based on Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain framework application, and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation. The solution ensures an especially high level of transparency and makes it possible for transactions between market participants to be verified. This is supposed to significantly simplify the participation of providers of decentralized distributed flexibilities in servicing the transmission system operator. The blockchain technology enables streamlined processing that meets TenneT's requirements for security and accuracy of the data as well as the requirements of discretion through access rights.

— Compiled with files from sonnen.


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