A microgrid using TransActive Grid’s model could let you directly sell energy generated from your rooftop solar panels to your neighbor.
That future involves a potent reckoning for energy utilities, believes Orsini, as tech advances and less restrictive energy laws loosen the iron grip utilities have on controlling energy exchange.
People can already legally exchange energy—it happens every time you sign up for Green Mountain Energy or a similar eco-friendly energy provider and contract to buy their energy. Technically speaking, you’re buying their energy credits(known as renewable energy certificates).
TransActive Grid’s exchange is built on ConsenSys’s blockchain tech. Specifically, it uses Ethereum, ConsenSys’s blockchain platform that it uses to build decentralized applications.
LO3 deployed two of its TransActive Grid Element devices, which mount next to a residential apartment building’s utility meter, track energy moving from energy collectors on the building (e.g., solar panels) into the greater energy grid, and register that on the blockchain.
Even then, that locally grown energy might end up being more expensive than the energy produced in bulk at a power plant.
It’s not a transaction across the utility grid, it’s happening above the utility grid between people.
The utility grid has other problems besides regulation and infrastructure—namely, security.
For now, TransActive Grid’s blockchain simply cryptographically secures transactions and exchange of goods—in this case, energy. Energy grid and utility security is a different beast entirely, and blockchain won’t directly solve the hacking vulnerabilities mentioned above, but at least TransActive Grid’s energy transactions would not conceivably add new vulnerabilities to an existing utility.