Switzerland: Local electricity market relies on Blockchain technology – The "Quartierstrom" project
In Walenstadt, Switzerland, 37 parties have joined forces to form a local electricity market. The pilot project bears the name "Quartierstrom". Of the participating parties 28 participants have their own solar power system, only seven are pure energy consumers. The plants have a total output of 290 kW and deliver about 300,000 kWh of electricity per year. The power consumption of all participants is around 250,000 kWh. Project leader Sandro Schopfer believes that building such a community is a unique interdisciplinary project. He also emphasizes that the entire project is greater than the sum of its parts: "communities of prosumers and consumers are more economically and ecologically more efficient than individual households."
The system at a glance
The distribution network is provided by the local grid operator and electricity supplier Wasser- und Elektrizitätswerk Walenstadt (WEW). The WEW is also an experimental partner, buying surplus solar power and compensating for production bottlenecks with mains electricity. According to the project management, as much electricity as possible should be consumed on site. For purchasers to so much cheaper purchase costs incurred, as if electricity is sourced from more remote areas. According to their own statement, the electricity costs tend to be lower than the electricity supplier.
Together with the WEW, a bottom-up network tariff will be developed, which should favor the local exchange of energy. Via a web portal, the participating households can indicate their individual preferences for the purchase and sale of energy. For example, operators of solar systems can determine the conditions under which they want to sell their surplus solar power in the neighborhood. On the other hand, consumers decide to what extent they want to buy the electricity. Whether the developed block chain is suitable for handling transactions in a local electricity market, however, will only be revealed at the end of the project.
Meanwhile, blockchain technology in the energy sector could revolutionize the industry as a whole. This makes it possible to automatically balance energy production and consumption in a region. According to the German Network Agency, the essential function of an energy supplier is the coordination of a group of households, farmers and industrial companies, who feed their self-generated electricity into the grid. With the Blockchain this function of the energy supplier could become superfluous in the future. In the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, the future is looking confident. The Walenstädter pilot project is supported by renowned universities, by companies such as Bosch and by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy as part of the pilot, demonstration and lighthouse program.
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