The current energy industry is rapidly evolving. Centralized power authorities were responsible for creating the connections to consumers, deciding where and when to build a generating capacity and how to bridge the distance between generators and loads. This gave them major leverage to influence the cost of energy consumption. But as markets around distributed energy resources like solar panels, batteries, microgrids, and embedded networks grow, the adoption of these sustainable, energy-generating technologies will shift the power balance from the central authorities to the consumers.
With the introduction of distributed energy resources, or DERs for short, the current energy distribution system is being defined by bi-directional flows of energy by millions of active prosumers. Individuals who utilize DERs are able to generate their own energy, regulate power consumption, even trade, export and provide excess energy. A network of linked prosumers would create a more reliable energy ecosystem than the current traditional network.
Solar panels: A prime example of renewable energy source.
In order to fully utilize the available modern technologies and to break away from traditional platforms, consumers need a decentralized energy trading platform for use as the market ecosystem. Power Ledger aims to provide the necessary foundation required. The ecosystem will allow users to monetize their energy production and realize the full value of their investments. It is similar to how Uber and AirBnb have allowed users to monetize their cars and spare rooms — a fact which the Power team point out in the whitepaper.
By utilizing blockchain technology, Power Ledger can provide this trading market platform, allowing the prosumers to export energy to their peers in a trustless environment. The decentralized nature of blockchain allows for more efficient reliable network communication processes without a centralized authority with lower costs and fees.
The proposed POWR platform is described as a trustless, transparent and interoperable energy trading platform that will support a variety of energy applications.
Listed are some of the key classes of Platform Applications, which were developed by Power Ledger for their ecosystem:
- P2P Trading (Fusebox):
- Allows consumers/retailers the ability to trade electricity and receive payments in real-time in an automated, trustless reconciliation and settlement system.
- Other benefits include options to select a clean energy source, trade with neighbors, export excess power, trade transparency, and low settlement costs.
- Neo-retailers will be provided with smart demand and supply management.
- Near instant remuneration and payment settlements is also a benefit while managing consumer exposure to the risk of non-supply.
- Microgrid/ Embedded Network Operator/ Strata:
- Electricity metering, big data acquisition, rapid micro-transactions and grid management are enabled using this application.
- Value can be derived from an investment in DERs.
- Wholesale Market Settlement:
- Rapid low-cost transparent dispatch optimization and management, data aggregation, reconciliation, and settlement for wholesale energy marketplaces are offered through this application.
- Autonomous Asset (AA) Management:
- This application will define shared ownership of renewable energy assets and trading renewable asset ownership. The AA is able to buy and sell its own electricity as well as distribute its income to assigned wallet addresses.
- Distributed Market Management:
- Optimized metering data, the collection of big data, right to access and dispatch of assets, rapid transaction settlement and network load balancing, frequency management, demand side response and demand side and load management data are provided through this application.
- Electric Vehicles:
- Designed to accommodate electric vehicles, this specific application will facilitate and collect real-time metering data by interfacing with the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). Data will be used for user identification and rapid transaction settlement.
- Power Port:
- Virtual energy pipelines as well as roadside assistance type assets can be automated using the platform (e.g., EVs) and provide a mobile storage discharge facility to maintain energy supplies.
- Carbon Trading:
- The application offers smart contracts for carbon traders to assure transparent and auditable digital transactions across organizations using blockchain ledger technology. Reports and records of carbon credits as well as certificates for regulatory authorities will be supported.
- Transmission Exchange:
- Utilizing data collected in the management of transmission networks, the platform can offer real-time metering data, data collection, as well as facilitate rights to access and dispatch assets. The platform also offers rapid transaction settlements and network load balancing in responding to non-stationary energy.
Applications for the platform can also be developed by third parties using the platform’s designs and services. It is suggested in the whitepaper that the POWR to Sparkz ratio for third-party developers may be adjusted depending on customer feedback and reputation in support for consumer innovations.
The Power Ledger platform operates upon a dual-token ecosystem:
- The ERC20 Power Ledger token, called POWR, is used to access the Platform and can be compared to a “limited software licensing permission.” Bespoke private trading applications will create Sparkz in exchange for POWRs. The tokens are also used as incentive towards energy producers. All prosumers generating as well as the consumers purchasing energy are rewarded POWR tokens. This loyalty-rewards program is funded by charging a small fee for all P2P transactions on the platform. Part of the fee is then used to purchase POWR tokens on exchanges and distribute them through the program.
- Sparkz are specifically limited to representing the tokenized value of a unit of electricity. They are issued against escrowed POWR tokens, via a smart contract, and are used by a host to onboard its customers. The tokens are already being purchased and redeemed using fiat currencies with individual trading platforms hosting closed-loop exchanges for energy.
The two tokens are exchangeable and will cooperate to allow for interoperability among diverse market management, pricing mechanisms, and units of electricity (kWh).
Platform System Process
Using the POWR ecosystem application Fusebox in conjunction with tokens, consumers and prosumers are able to buy and sell energy. They are settled with Sparkz tokens and may redeem the Sparkz for cash via their Application Host. Entities that run an application on the POWR platform are the Application Hosts. They can range from utility companies to EV-charging services or even a decentralized autonomous organization.
Provided is a diagram demonstrating dynamic flow in the POWR platform.
To operate, an Application Host is required to possess an adequate amount of POWR to generate the necessary Sparkz for their consumers. Once a POWR token supply is exhausted, platform access is revoked. A smart contract is in place to ensure consumer protection in the event an Application Host fails. P2P consumers will be able to redeem their Sparkz directly against the POWR tokens previously provided and port to another Host.
However, in a deregulated P2P market that has no need for Application Hosts, providers as well as consumers are able to convert and trade POWR and Sparkz tokens directly without the need for intermediaries.
Power Ledger has also developed its own unique trade matching algorithm which will distribute and transact available power equitably without favoring any participants. Consumer orders on both sides of the market are filled in equal increments and cycled continuously to ensure equal allocation of the available energy in the area, while minimizing the distance between each user.
Participants are also grouped by either pre-configured network conditions or by proximity-based priority collectives. Users are limited to trades within a specified trading group configured by their host (regulated) or by Power Ledger (unregulated). Individuals with remaining import/export kWh orders to trade move up the priority groups until depleted.
To maximize efficiency, Power Ledger’s Trade Engine 2.0 is being designed to geo-locate participants and prioritizes proximity to assist in network load balancing at efficient intervals across the network.
Shown above is a visualization of POWR’s hierarchy, used to determine energy allocation priority.
Similar to other blockchain projects, the Power Ledger platform consists of different layers. It is planned for POWR tokens to be on the public Ethereum blockchain and a fee-less consortium blockchain will handle the high transaction volume of p2p energy trading.
The public blockchain layer will interface the ecosystem with token exchanges. This layer also provides the most advanced security and decentralization available to the token and is a mechanism for interacting with the Consortium and Application layers of the platform through the POWR token.
Next is the core POWR layer, providing the public smart contracts which provide the conversion of POWR/Sparkz tokens. It also facilitates the exchange of POWR/Sparkz and smart bond contracts for Application Hosts. Oracles are also utilized to gather information external to the blockchain protocol required for internal operations and communicating with the consortium chain.
For the consortium layer, Power Ledger is currently using the EcoChain blockchain, a private PoS blockchain. EcoChain has been stress-tested in high-load environments and is now being transitioned to a modified fee-less Consortium Ethereum network for POWR while retaining the benefits of the existing EcoChain system for specific platform application services such as Sparkz creation and management, fiat payment processing, and storage and verification of data. Both the Ethereum Consortium and original EcoChain blockchain are currently running in the Consortium layer to provide these benefits.
A representation of POWR’s blockchain layers.
Blockchain transactions will also be executed in an off-chain process by the use of state channels. The blockchain state will be locked using multi-signatures or smart contracts. In order to update the state, a specific set of participants must agree with the decision. Eventually, the state is closed and sent to the blockchain record.
Lastly, the ecosystem’s Application Layer is called the Fusebox. As briefly mentioned before, Fusebox is an advanced application developed by Power Ledger to facilitate P2P trading. Designed not only for direct peer-to-peer trading, it can also be configured to adapt to market structures and regulations and is able to reconfigure seamlessly as market changes are applied. By utilizing the benefits of blockchain, the ecosystem also gains the adaptability to conform to any existing, or future, regulatory environment. The scalability provides stability for users positioned in the ecosystem and preserves market power in transactive arrangements.
Aside from being able to monetize DER investments, Power Ledger platform offers users the opportunities to finance for shared ownership and trading of renewable assets. The Autonomous Asset management module provided by the platform will be able to buy and sell its own electricity then distribute its income to assigned wallet addresses. Communities will be able to collectively invest in an energy infrastructure and become co-owners and beneficiaries of the asset’s POWR generation and production.
An example is shown describing possible investments and returns.
Power Ledger has recently emerged as one of the most promising blockchain projects of 2017. Not only are the fundamentals very applicable, but there is also a quickly growing demand for sustainable energy worldwide. No doubt the market will receive the POWR platform positively. It is also encouraging that the development have been in the process of working on POWR for a while, with notable achievements so far. Fundamentally, I personally have high expectations for this project.