As was pointed out, I was amiss in talking about the Brooklyn Blockchain Microgrid initiative last week. I am, of course, inconsolably sorry. So to cut to the chase, here’s the gist of the story: Brooklyn folks set up residential PV (but refuse to say how much capacity they have installed) and instead of selling to the utility, they trade amongst themselves (over the utility’s wires, presumably), put the transactions on the blockchain, and call it a revolution in the making. In simpler times, you’d have set up a cooperative, which let’s members either partake in the profits of selling the generated energy, or use parts of it, which would have reduced the computational overhead of proof-of-work for logging the transactions to the blockchain.
Speaking of actual revolutions, Fortune has an excellent account of the German energy transition, with a good focus on how expensive it can be to kickstart technological development with policy. The complaint here has often been that the subsidies for renewable energy sources tend to be excessive, tail off too slowly, and distort the market heavily. All of which is true, but then, this is how the sausage is made, and if you want cheaper RES, you’ll have to kickstart the initial demand until superlinear scaling effects kick in and drastically lower costs.
The question then remains, however, how to structure a market place that slowly reduces the excessive burden again, and serves as a model for other countries to follow suit. I’m still involved with a local Think Tank to try to figure out how a market design might look like for higher shares of RES. (Of course, there’s discussion of blockchain, too…)
One thing is certain: More RES in the grid will need more storage. So it’s encouraging to see how large battery storage facilities have gotten rather quickly. Tesla just opened a 52 MWh-installation (and attendant solar farm) on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, with a contract to supply energy at a LCOE of $0.13/kWh. That’s quite remarkable.