In late April 2020, Equigy launched. Equigy’s objective is to help balance the electricity grid and ensure security of supply for the energy transition. To do this, it uses blockchain technology to access, via aggregators, new sources of electricity from the owners of consumer-based devices.
It is a reversal, in some ways, of the traditional approach which focused on supply. Equigy focuses on demand by enabling owners of small-scale assets to play a role in transforming the energy sector through optimising of their interactions with the grid.
The needs of future energy systems are changing. Modern electricity supply increasingly operates on renewables – for significant periods of time. But renewable energy supplies (solar, wind, etc.) are often volatile.
To manage this requires flexibility – to balance the grid. Many transmission system operators (TSOs) have traditionally relied on fossil fuels to deliver this. At the same time, energy consumption is changing, as demand from electric cars, heat pumps and other consumer-based devices grows.
As supply becomes ever more challenging to control, TSOs are turning to demand management as a means to achieve flexibility. But small-scale flexibility resources are difficult to manage within an electricity system. This is where Equigy – and founders TenneT, Swissgrid and Terna – come in.
Equigy and its platform
To address changes to the energy system, and to deliver the needed flexibility, aggregators must support variety – embracing small and diverse energy sources. These can come from those electric cars, heat pumps and consumer-based devices.
Yet small-scale flexibility resources are more difficult to manage in an electricity system. They involve tens of thousands of transactions which is where Equigy becomes relevant by providing:
- a secure, scalable solution
- trust and transparency between all participants.
To do this, Equigy uses blockchain technology to register and validate these energy transactions. It enables TSOs to track them in a secure and immutable ledger – by making the flexible capacity of home-storage devices visible. In effect, the Equigy platform:
- facilitates data exchange between stakeholders
- brings (encourages) new players and technologies into the electricity value chain.
The key is that transactions validate based on data provided by, for example:
- home batteries and electric vehicles
- Internet of Things devices – such as smart meters and charging points.
These are the ‘mechanism’ for allowing consumers to obtain financial rewards for grid use of their flexible battery capacity. Complementing this are the aggregators. These facilitate the whole process, thereby helping to stabilise the overall electricity system.
The TenneT/sonnen example
TenneT has a partnership with sonnen (stet), a company which specialises in home energy storage systems. sonnen batteries were used to accept excess energy where, for example, there was too much wind power. To keep a balance, other sonnen batteries simultaneously discharged equivalent energy into areas with too little wind power.
TenneT documents the whole process in real-time on a blockchain. The aim is to manage grid congestion through the flexible use of batteries to maintain the reliability of the power system.
In the pilot project, TenneT and sonnen tested a ‘virtual power plant’. This ‘obtained’ electricity from home storage for congestion management (so-called redispatch). As a result sonnen and TenneT were able continuously to monitor how much capacity the home storage facilities could provide for redispatch back into the grid.
“The future of the energy transition is customer-centric and decentralised. That is why we are delighted to see a platform like Equigy, where customers, aggregators and OEMs can generate revenues while doing the right thing for the electricity system as a whole.” Jean Baptiste Cornefort, managing Director, sonnen eServices
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
Through the use of a blockchain, Equigy offers a secure data layer. It harnesses the power of consumer-based assets for grid-balancing. The vital point here is that consumer-based (demand) assets become valuable in ways that were not true before.
To regard home generation, and vehicle as well as home battery storage, as a ‘monumental battery’ is not a new concept. Delivery has been more challenging. By adding a mutually trusted – between consumers and providers – immutable mechanism (the blockchain), the past electricity generation and supply model inverts. This is one aspect which makes blockchain attractive.