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Blockchain helps unlock the grid

IBM will develop the platform to ensure verifiability and transparency of transactions of small-scale batteries and electric cars

Blockchain is being used to unlock distributed flexibility of the electricity grid
Blockchain is being used to unlock distributed flexibility of the electricity grid

TenneT, sonnen, Vandebron and IBM are joining forces to develop blockchain for managing the electricity grid in the Netherlands and Germany. This innovative technology is the next step in enabling decentralised flexible energy sources to play a role in the management of the electricity grid.


Because renewable electricity generation accounts for a growing share in the overall power supply, the electricity grid is becoming more volatile. In the coming years there will be times when conventional energy sources will not be able to fully meet the demand for electricity.


To address this, the European electricity transmission system operator, TenneT, is working to find new ways of maintaining the security of supply. As part of a broader digital transformation programme, TenneT is exploring the use of a permissioned blockchain network that uses Hyperledger Fabric to integrate flexible capacity supplied by electric cars and household batteries into the electrical grid.


TenneT CEO Mel Kroon commented: “These pilot projects are part of TenneT’s broader strategy of preparing the electricity system to accommodate the growing volume of renewable energy.”


TenneT will be testing this new concept in two pilot projects:


Netherlands: TenneT is responsible for maintaining the balance on the high-voltage grid. To guarantee a continuous supply of electricity, supply and demand have to be balanced 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the event of imbalance between supply and demand, TenneT makes sure additional electricity is supplied or deploys reserve capacity.


In this pilot project, green energy company Vandebron will work with customers who own an electric vehicle to make the capacity of their car batteries available to help TenneT balance the grid. Vandebron will provide this service to its customers without compromising the availability of their car battery. The blockchain enables each car to participate by recording their availability and their action in response to signals from TenneT.


Germany: Re-dispatch measures prevent regional overloads on the grid. This system is necessary, for example in Germany, when wind energy produced in northern Germany cannot be transported to the industrial centres in the south of the country.


In this pilot project with sonnen eServices (the energy group of the Sonnen group), a network of residential solar batteries will be made available to help reduce the imposition of limitations on wind energy at times of insufficient transport capacity.


The blockchain presents the operator from TenneT with a view of the available pool of flexibility, ready to activate at the push of the button, after which the blockchain records batteries’ contribution. This will enable sonnen and TenneT to support the integration of renewable energy sources into the German electricity supply system.


Market parties will be informed about the pilot projects and relevant developments by means of newsletters and market consultation workshops in the Netherlands and Germany. Once the concept has been proven to work, it will be launched and the TenneT Energy Community will be open for other parties to join.


The digital process of verifying and documenting the performance values of these distributed flexible energy devices is delivered using IBM Blockchain, built with Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain framework implementation and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation.


Blockchain is suited to connecting multiple parties and large numbers of distributed computing nodes and enabling them to undertake joint action in a scalable, transparent and trusted network. IBM will develop this platform to ensure the verifiability and transparency of the transactions of the small-scale batteries and electric cars.


The blockchain will enable optimal distribution across all markets and functions. This way, TenneT will be able to gain insight and have the possibility to activate flexibility in the energy system, while consumers are facilitated in making their flexibility available to the balancing market.


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