Could Dairy Farmers Become Energy Traders with Blockchain?

Dairy farmers in Australia may have the chance to begin buying and selling renewable energy on a peer-to-peer energy trading platform for the first time ever next year.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is funding a new feasibility study for a virtual micogrid in a significant dairying region in Victoria, Australia.

According to ARENA, the $775,000 (US$580,000) project will be led by Brooklyn-based energy company LO3 Energy and focuses on the feasibility of creating the virtual microgrid across up to 200 dairy farms, about 100 household consumers and 20 other commercial and industrial customers in the south-eastern region of Victoria. ARENA is providing $370,000 in funding for the study.

ARENA said that the virtual microgrid will incorporate solar PV, battery storage, smart appliances and enabling technologies combined with the LO3’s Exergy peer-to-peer energy trading platform, which uses blockchain to allow participants to securely buy and sell locally produced renewable energy.

Related: Inside Renewable Energy —The Business of Blockchain: Where Cryptotech Fits for Renewables Today and into the Future

The study is expected to be completed by end of this year, and if successful, the pilot microgrid could be rolled out in 2019.

“As the economy decarbonizes and coal generation continues to be retired, wind and solar will increasingly enter the market — but their intermittent generation has created a need for new ways to store and manage energy,” Lawrence Orsini, LO3’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “This microgrid will showcase solutions for this including battery storage to make greater use of solar energy and demand response in which consumers will be paid for choosing to conserve energy at peak times.”

The project involves a consortium of partners, including AusNet Services, Sustainable Melbourne Fund, Dairy Australia and Siemens.

Lead image: Sheep graze in South Gippsland near Blad Hills wind farm, Victoria, Australia. Credit: Takver | Flickr

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