Street2Grid - An Electricity Blockchain Platform for P2P Energy Trading

Lead Research Organisation: Aston University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering and Applied Science

Abstract

The objective of the Fellowship is to create a new platform to identify millions of streams of power flows in the large-scope distribution network to enable the ambitious blockchain technology for the power industry, which is seen as a future trend with a growing number of distributed energy resources. I believe that the eventual peer-to-peer (P2P) electricity market can only be realised when individual transactions can be physically traced to enhance the transparency and reflect the actual usage of the network for correct billing.

This Fellowship questions the overlook of the present blockchain concept on the power grid infrastructure and proposes to analytically uncouple transactions from the usage of the physical medium for electricity transport. This Fellowship pushes the complex power systems (particularly distribution networks) analytics to its new limits by i) exploiting geographical information system with new distribution power flow tracing techniques with newly defined trait; ii) taking into account the mobility of distributed energy resources, e.g. electric vehicles, battery energy storage to flexible electricity trading from the physical constraint of the infrastructure; iii) using analytical, signal processing and chromatics methodology with smart metering data to improve power flow tracing performance especially for highly complicated distribution networks with microgrids and millions of nodes to represent all market participants; iv) developing a new tool as a fundamental layer of application programming interface to the future blockchain platform.

The outcome of this Fellowship will not only shed light on the fundamental barriers on the energy P2P sharing economy but will also lead to the rollout of blockchain in the energy sector by enabling substantial public engagement to realise "Decarbonisation, Deregulation, Decentralisation" via "Transactions, Transparency, Traceability, Time-stamped, Trust".

Planned Impact

The proposed work has revolutionary potentials to bring about substantial structural changes, at least in the power industry. These will deliver opportunities, benefits but also entail risks for the energy industry, transport industry, prosumers and consumers as communities and individuals, and academia, which are summarised below:

Industrial Impacts/Benefits to the Energy and Transport Industries:
(1) Distributed Operating System (DOS) - From the distribution network operator (DNO)'s point of view, such a system would make it easier to manage the dispersed renewable generation, mitigate network stresses and reduce the need for network reinforcement.
(2) Facilitating Renewables - This would also make it easier to issue certificates for carefully analysed/measured emission allowances and energy efficiency improvements, which would, in turn, simplify the complex yet opaque system currently used, e.g. Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs).
(3) Flexible Trading - The development of an integrated trading system that would permit businesses to trade their option to use electricity during a given time frame. Smaller-scale transactions are becoming economically viable. Simplified routes to market for distributed generators would further boost the growth of renewables.
(4) Market Efficiency - It may make existing electricity industry financial processes more efficient by serving as the backbone for utilities' asset management systems that automatically diagnose network emergencies hence transaction problems and in reaction to them reconfigure the network.
(5) More Electrified Green Transportation - It could prove to be what is required to keep up with evolving demand for electricity in smaller, lower value blocks and at a higher frequency (especially EV charging/discharging practices), rather than making electrified transportation a form of technological disruption that the power industry should passively react to.

Social Impacts/Benefits to Local Communities and Individuals:
(6) Flexibly and Efficiently Switching Supplier - Customers are enabled to switch power suppliers more quickly.
(7) Flexible EV Usage - This idea can provide more flexible EV charging/discharging practices. More specifically, it will address the potential for more flexible distributed renewable power generation and EV charging/discharging practices by options of X2V/V2X (Things-to-Vehicles/Vehicles-to-Things).
(8) Reduced Costs - Overall, this could lead to significant cost reductions, with end users directly benefiting from a more efficient system (both economically and physically efficient). The cost reductions would directly or indirectly lower the transaction costs and energy bills of consumers, via cutting out of intermediaries, e.g. aggregators, greater market transparency with decentralised data storage.
(9) Transaction Flexibility - Another factor enabling savings on energy bills is that energy consumers would also have considerably greater flexibility in choosing their supplier. In blockchain-based transaction systems customers almost constantly switch supplier, as they can find new transaction partners and contract with them within short timescales (in a few minutes).
(10) A Sense of Community - Energy is unique in a way that many people see it as a human right and a public good they pay for. People's engagement in it means energy has not only market value but also social value, which is embodied in transactions within a community.

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/S001778/1 29/06/2018 14/10/2019 £569,980
EP/S001778/2 Transfer EP/S001778/1 15/10/2019 14/06/2021 £387,670
 
Description The current research finding from this project is that there is a demand for a peer-to-peer trading platform and confirmation of the required change to current energy market architecture.

GIS (geographic information system) is proposed to visualise the dynamic trace of power flows through the network, providing illustrative results helpful for electricity distribution network operation. Three different layouts have been designed to make visualisation convenient and facilitate analysis of complex multi-directional-flow low voltage distribution networks: power from a given generator to the loads fed by it, power from all the generators feeding a given load and from a DNO (distribution network operator) perspective representing all power traces from all generators.

Two open-source software packages: OpenDSS (open-source electric power distribution systems simulator) and QGIS (Quantum GIS, an open-source GIS platform) were combined to perform the time series power flow calculations, trace the power flows and display the results over maps or orthoimages in a GIS. The methodology for power flow tracing in low voltage distribution networks with high penetrations of distributed energy resources allocating the losses by generators side was implemented.
Exploitation Route The newly designed energy market architecture and definitions of various market participants will be important to energy trading related companies to adapt their businesses to fit for future changes.

The power flow tracing methodology and implementation are useful for future work pursuing transparent engagement of prosumers via peer to peer transactions.
Sectors Education,Energy,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy

 
Title Distributed electricity flow simulation & visualisation tool 
Description A MATLAB/Python-based toolbox is being developed to carry out general unbalanced low-voltage power distribution network modelling, and low flow analysis, with geographical location information and a mapping interface. An added feature of the toolbox is power flow tracing algorithm and visualisation with animations of complex power flows from various distributed energy resources. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Once packed and published in the power/energy research community, this toolbox can be used by researchers in power systems analysis areas focusing on distributed energy resources. 
 
Description Street2Grid - Nortech 
Organisation Nortech
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution My research team provided simulation models and relevant results in relation to the power quality monitoring of electric vehicle charging/discharging for validation of the products produced by Nortech around substation monitoring.
Collaborator Contribution Nortech team provided monitored data for analysis of the impacts of electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid to the local power distribution network.
Impact This is not a multi-disciplinary collaboration. Research outcome so far is the conclusion on the harmonics effect of electric vehicle charging/discharging at the connection point of the local power distribution network.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Street2Grid - Scottish Power 
Organisation Scottish Power Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution My research team contributed to the analysis and infrastructure review of SP Energy Network's project work.
Collaborator Contribution Scottish Power Energy Networks innovation team provided network circuit information and case studies of their research project trial areas for analysis, as well as views from DNO's perspectives.
Impact Outputs are in forms of research discussions and future opportunities.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Street2Grid - UKPN 
Organisation UK Power Networks
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution My research team contributed to the analysis of dynamic asset rating and current software infrastructure review of UKPN's project work.
Collaborator Contribution UKPN innovation team provided network circuit information and case studies of their research project trial areas for analysis, as well as views from DNO's perspectives.
Impact Outputs are in form of dynamic asset rating analysis tool and review summary of the software infrastructure. This is not a multi-disciplinary collaboration.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Research workshop with Energy Systems Catapult 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Energy Systems Catapult is a research and development organisation in the energy system areas, with their office based in Birmingham.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Research workshop with Scottish Power 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A delegate from Scottish Power Energy Networks visited the research organisation, to engage with research discussions and teaching activities of undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020