As more people install solar panels and behind the meter technologies, the distribution grid becomes more complex. The top-down solutions brought by utilities to monitor the grid is challenged, so we propose a bottom-up organization of the grid focused on energy communities.
What it does
At Power Brokers, we have created a local energy market for businesses and homeowners to transact energy. The energy market operates at the distribution grid level, to preserve the constraints of the physical wires. The platform also allows funding new projects to incentivize the right energy solutions at the right place.
How we built it
We have implemented a local energy market, similar to current wholesale energy markets. Participants bid into the market with their power consumption/production and voltage condition at their node, the market matches buyers and sellers every 15 minutes. In order to present businesses and home-owners, with local opportunities we have built a web application. Under the hood, the data is exchanged on an Ethereum network.
Challenges we ran into
- developing energy markets while preserving the fairness of access to electricity
- implementing a highly innovative idea with utilities, a slow-moving industry
- ensuring that market rules provide the ability to safely operate the distribution grid (over-voltages and line capacity issues)
Accomplishments that we are proud of
We are proud to preserve technical rigor (complex energy market and grid physics) while providing an intuitive user interface.
What we learned
We have discovered the challenges of creating market alternatives to operate the grid under high penetration of renewable energies.
What's next for Power Brokers
We will implement our platform on a small scale project the Oakland EcoBlock. The prototype will demonstrate the ability of an energy market to share the value of locally sourced energy between inhabitants.