Power Ledger Extend Solar Trading Trial

Western Australian based tech company Power Ledger have extended their solar trading trial – let’s take a look at what stage 2 of the company’s p2p renewable trading scheme will encompass.

Solar Trading and Power Ledger

Power Ledger’s blockchain technology has been used since November 2018 to track the transactions of rooftop solar energy traded between 18 households in Fremantle, Western Australia.

The Fremantle Smart Cities project was titled RENeW Nexus and its goal was to demonstrate peer-to-peer energy trading between residential houses. 

Project partners included Curtin University, government-owned retailer Synergy, Western Power, the government-owned network operator, and the City of Fremantle itself.

The trial works by utilising Western Power’s existing network with Synergy’s customers. The Power Ledger platform allows households to buy and sell excess rooftop solar energy in real-time, with residents able to view electricity usage in 30-minute intervals, rather than waiting for their quarterly bill.

Since the trial started in November 2018, Power Ledger has processed almost 50,000 transactions on its platform per month and tracked over 4 megawatt hours of peer-to-peer renewable energy trades. Safe to say it’s been a roaring success, so they’re off to start the second phase of their trial. 

Power Ledger are also working outside of Australia in varied capacity:

  • Silicon Valley Power in the City of Santa Clara alongside Clean Energy Blockchain Network
  • BCPG T77 Thailand
  • Kansai Electric Power Co. (Phase 1)
  • Vicinity Castle Plaza

Saving With Solar Interview with Power Ledger

We had a chat to Power Ledger about the exciting second phase of their renewable energy trading scheme

With ~50k transactions per month currently, what’s the target for 2020?
Power Ledger intends to double the number of participants in the second phase of the trial.

How many trial partners will be involved in stage 2?
In the second phase of the trial we continued to partner with Synergy, Western Power, Curtin University and EnergyOS 
 
Any info on the ‘additional pricing models’ in stage 2? 
The pricing model for stage 2 is similar to stage 1, with some minor tweaks. The partners will be organising workshops and surveying participant to learn more about pricing models. 
 
How much of the trading is automated so the prosumers don’t have to do much?
All the trading is automated. in this deployment however, participants have the option to set their preferred buy and sell prices for peer to peer energy. They can be as active as optimising their prices and trading on a half hourly basis. Alternatively they could go in the platform and set and forget their prices they are happy with.

VPP 2.0 (Virtual Power Plants 2.0)

According to a roadmap for Power Ledger released on Medium last year, the goal is to enact VPP 2.00 – which will allow a lot of options for households who want to trade solar. It also factors in ideas for a two-way electricity grid and options for households to assist the grid – be that through capacity, frequency control, or voltage support.  

We see VPP 2.0, or Virtual Power Plants 2.0, as a natural extension of our peer-to-peer functionality, tying all our other products together. xGrid will evolve into an optimized model of a virtual power plant, to create a conduit for the transaction of value between the owners of distributed energy resources and multiple counterparties.

Self-executing smart contracts will integrate with physical switches in the network, creating an autonomous power market with secure value transfer between consumers, energy markets and networks. For example, a household with solar may normally be trading energy in a P2P market, until they are offered a higher rate by the network to provide capacity, frequency control, or voltage support.

Power Ledger extend Solar Trading Trial to Stage 2. (source: Power Ledger)
Power Ledger extend Solar Trading Trial to Stage 2. (source: Power Ledger)
 
 

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Coles Solar Power – Supermarket signs commercial solar PPA.

Coles solar power – the giant supermarket company has signed a power purchasing agreement (PPA) with global renewable power generation company Metka EGN. Another huge step for commercial solar and retail solar. Let’s read more about it.

Coles Solar Power

The goal is to buy more than 70% of the energy generated by three solar power plants. The plants will be bnuilt and operated by Metka EGN in Wagga Wagga, Corowa, and Junee in New South Wales – this represents 10% of the company’s entire national electricity usage! Metka EGN are a London based EPC contractor working as a subsidiary of Greek company Mytilineos Holdings S.A. According to PV Magazine, construction of 169MW will commence by EOY and project development is at an ‘advanced stage’. 

Coles Group CEO Steven Cain discussed the move and Coles’ goal to be the most sustainable supermarket in Australia:

“Coles has been a cornerstone of Australian retail for more than 100 years, and ensuring the sustainability of our business is essential to success in our second century,” he said.

“We are thrilled that with this agreement, Coles can make a significant contribution to the growth of renewable energy supply in Australia, as well as to the communities we serve.” Mr. Cain continued.

Thinus Keeve, the Coles Chief Property and Export Officer, had some comments about the Coles solar power scheme – noting that it’s the first Australian retailer to commit to buying renewable energy through a PPA.

Metka/Coles’ solar plants will supply over 220 gigawatt hours of electricity to the national grid. This will result in the displacement of over 180,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year. According to the media release this is also the equivalent of the annual emissions of 83,000 cars.

To read the media release entitled ‘Coles agreement secures three new solar power plants’ on the Coles website please click here.

What will Woolworths do to compete with this? Watch this space…

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Senior Campaigner, Lindsay Soutar spoke on the issue:

“Some of the world’s biggest companies, including supermarket chains Walmart and Tesco, have already made the commitment to 100 per cent renewable.

“We look forward to seeing Woolworths make similar commitments,” she said.

 

 

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Solar Road Failure in France – Update on Technology

The world’s first solar road (Normandy road in France) has been a bit of a bust. According to an article in Business Insider it’s in very poor shape and not even worth repairing. What a shame – let’s read more about the Normandy solar road, what went wrong, and what its failure might mean for future solar highways.

Solar Road Failure in France – Update on Technology, Idaho solar road.

The Normandy solar road covers 2800 square meters and was installed in 2016 in Tourouvre-au-Perche. 

A report from Le Monde has been translated by Business Insider and paints a pretty sad picture of the road’s effectiveness (or lack thereof):

On top of the damage and poor wear of the road, the Normandy solar track also failed to fulfill its energy-production goals. The original aim was to produce 790 kWh each day, a quantity that could illuminate a population of between 3,000 and 5,000 inhabitants. But the rate produced stands at only about 50% of the original predicted estimates.

Other issues the ~$6.1m Normandy road has include rotting leaves, thunderstorms, and the volume of the solar road – where the speed limit even had to be lowered as it was so loud.  Daily Caller are advising that 75% of the panels were broken pre-installation and now 83% are non-functional. The current amount of energy being generated by this project is so low it would only be able to power a small water fountain and restroom lights. The Daily Caller article also discusses a $3.9m USD Idaho road which is suffering from a similar issue. 

If you’d like to read the original article (it’s in French) from Le Monde, entitled “En Normandie, le fiasco de la plus grande route solaire du monde”, please click here

If you’d like to read more about other solar highways across the world, here are a few links:

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Hackers Now Targeting Power Grids

There’s a growing threat to the power grid prompting a number of Australians to consider solar – Hackers. Sound far fetched? Let’s read on.

Hackers Now Targeting Power Grids

There’s a growing threat to the power grid that’s prompting a number of Australians to consider solar – Hackers. It’s one of the reasons why some of us are becoming preppers. Many of us laugh at these extreme predictions however the threat is real. Many fear it could bring households and businesses to its knees when significant power outages are achieved. With the improvements in the efficiency and cost of solar batteries, preparing to be self-sufficiency is becoming an attractive option. While power generators may be in use for large-scale corporations and businesses that require electricity to be always available, solar batteries are an option for small businesses and households. Battery stored power can at least help us be self-sufficient for the short-term when required.

An anonymous hacking group known to target industrial systems is now attacking power grids around the world. But what does this mean for us here in Australia and can it be prevented?

It is believed that the group of hackers attacked the ICS (industrial control systems) of a Saudi Arabian petrochemical plant. But the industrial cybersecurity company Dragos says the list of victims is getting longer and it includes power grids in Australia.

The hacker group in question (called Xenotime) became known after an incident in 2017. Back then, the group was involved in infecting the previously-mentioned Saudi Arabian petrochemical plant with malware (called Trisis, HatMan, or Triton). The malware was specially designed to obstruct industrial safety systems.

In particular, the malware interfered with the ESD systems (emergency shutdown systems). Security companies forewarned that hackers could cause physical harm and even shut down operations. According to experts, such activity is equivalent to a state’s preparation for an attack. Later, the security company FireFly conducted analysis and connected this hackers’ attack to a state-funded research laboratory located in Russia. In addition, the company said that they discovered the same malicious software at another company.

Solar is no longer about saving and making money alone, it’s about security. The security company Dragos now warns that Xenotime is no longer focused only on gas and oil and has begun probing power networks located in Asia-Pacific and the States.

According to Dragos, the attack on the gas and oil facility in Saudi Arabia was actually an upsurge of ICS attacks. After that attack, Xenotime has expanded and targeted gas and oil companies in other parts of the world. In 2018, the hacking group attacked a number of ICS manufacturers and vendors.

After the 2017 attack, Xenotime has started research and scanning on possible targets which are mostly located in Europe and North America. At the beginning of 2019, the hacking group attempted to gather information related to Asia-Pacific and US electricity plants.

Dragos’ analysts believe that such behaviour could be a sign that the hacking group is planning a cyber attack on a larger scale. The group also attempted to use lists of stolen passwords and usernames in order to enter target accounts; however, so far, these attempts have been unfruitful. Nevertheless, Xenotime’s interest in power grids shouldn’t be taken lightly as their final goal is to compromise safety.

Dragos’ experts say that for now, the hacking group’s activity is mainly focused on gathering information and gaining access to operations necessary for an intrusion into industrial control systems in the future. However, there’s no proof that the hackers are actually able to execute a full-scale disruptive attack on power grids.

Still, the security company says that all ICS-related firms and organisations should be prepared for potential intrusions. Security teams need to be aware that ICS attacks are very probable and could happen at any time. They should think about solutions in case of loss of SIS integrity; for instance, creating an on-call incident response teams, process and configuration data to be used for comparison to other compromised devices, as well as means to facilitate recovery in case of a breach. All these are complex and sensitive operations and for that reason precisely, they must be taken into consideration in advance.

The ICS infrastructure runs everything from rail networks and factories to power grids, and that’s why these threats must be taken seriously. Experts are warning that hacking attempts are on the rise. Enemies are investing in the ability to intrude into crucial infrastructure such as gas and oil, water and electricity.

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The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 Solar Satellite

The Planetary Society have launched a solar satellite which has been named the Lightsail 2. The solar sailing Cubesat device will be in orbit for the rest of August. Let’s learn more about the solar sailing technology and what the Planetary Society hope to achieve with the launch of this fascinating new piece of technology! 

The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 Solar Satellite

The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 Solar Satellite (source: planetary.org)

The concept of ‘solar sailing’ means that an object will be moved by photons escaping the sun’s gravitational pull. According to Popular Mechanics, It’s the second ever solar sailing object to fly – with the solar satellite following IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) from Japan, which launched in 2010. IKAROS certainly has the cooler name, but the LightSail 2 has some superior technology – an aluminzed (a coating of aluminum alloy) Mylar sail and far better uptime.

“For The Planetary Society, this moment has been decades in the making,” said Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye. “Carl Sagan talked about solar sailing when I was in his class in 1977. But the idea goes back at least to 1607, when Johannes Kepler noticed that comet tails must be created by energy from the sun. The LightSail 2 mission is a game-changer for spaceflight and advancing space exploration.”

“We’re thrilled to announce mission success for LightSail 2,” LightSail program manager and Planetary Society chief scientist Bruce Betts said. “Our criteria was to demonstrate controlled solar sailing in a CubeSat by changing the spacecraft’s orbit using only the light pressure of the sun, something that’s never been done before. I’m enormously proud of this team. It’s been a long road and we did it.”

If you’re interest in reading more, the Planetary Society have created a site named Mission Control where you’re able to track the LightSail 2 in space. To visit Mission Control please click here

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