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  • Peter Maloney

Silicon Valley Power tests blockchain to record EV charging credits

California public power utility Silicon Valley Power has embarked on a project to test the use of blockchain technology for tracking credits associated with electric vehicle charging.

Silicon Valley Power is working with Clean Energy Blockchain Network, the North American partner of Power Ledger, an Australian start-up that builds blockchain-based cryptocurrency platforms for energy transactions.

The proof of concept project will track the production and use of energy at a six-story parking garage in Santa Clara, Calif., where Silicon Valley Power operates 49 electric vehicle charging stations powered by 370 kW of rooftop solar panels.

The aim is for the blockchain technology to track the EV charging transactions and the energy output from the solar panels.

That data will be tracked, recorded, stored and transmitted to Silicon Valley Power and the California Air Resources Board. The aim is to streamline the reporting process for California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits.

“In the first phase of the project, we want to see if we can ease the reporting on this,” John Roukema, Silicon Valley Power’s chief electric utility officer, said. “Eventually, down the road, in a future phase we want to be able to tokenize and monetize the credits.”

When the EV chargers use solar power, they generate LCFS credits. Those credits can be monetized and used to fund more low carbon processes, Roukema said.

For now, Silicon Valley Power is getting set up to use Clean Energy Blockchain Network’s platform to track transactions.

Roukema characterized Silicon Valley Power’s relationship with Clean Energy Blockchain Network as “a teaming agreement. We haven’t hired them.” The project should come together in the next few months, he said. “We are more or less taking it phase by phase.”

One of the outcomes Roukema is looking for is to streamline the reporting process for collecting LCFS credits to make the process less of a burden on the utility’s staff.

If the blockchain project proves out, Roukema said there could be several other programs that could benefit from a more efficient data reporting process, including compliance with renewable portfolio standard mandates, cap and trade programs and integrated resource plans.

“They all require a lot of reporting and staff time and effort to put together, so anything we can do to automate the system – and do it in a verifiable way – that makes for a simpler and less staff intensive outcome,” Roukema said.

Blockchain is often associated with, but is not synonymous with, Bitcoin. Blockchain is a form of digital ledger that can automatically and securely record, store and transmit details of any type of transaction. The technology is being tested in a variety of applications and industries, including banking, healthcare, manufacturing and energy.

On the other side of the country, Siemens and LO3 Energy have teamed up on a project that uses blockchain technology to keep track of transactions on its Brooklyn Microgrid project. The technology enables participants in the project to trade credits for solar power.

Power Ledger in April partnered with Kansai Electric Power in Japan in a pilot project for peer-to-peer energy trading. And in Australia, Power Ledger is working with Origin, an energy retailer, to test peer-to-peer energy trading systems.

Burlington Electric Department blockchain project

The board of directors for the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments program earlier this year approved $720,692 in grant funding awarded to 11 projects at the Spring 2018 DEED Board Meeting including a blockchain project involving Vermont’s Burlington Electric Department.

The Vermont public power utility will be using dynamic blockchain market incentives to explore reducing capacity and energy costs for utilities.

Burlington Electric Department will work alongside Omega Grid to design and deploy an opt-in blockchain market incentive program.

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