Using a Blockchain for a Smarter Energy Grid

Blockchain technology stems from Bitcoin and provides a platform for change greater than Bitcoin itself. Researchers in the renewable energy industry have realized that blockchains can be used to replace outdated billing and tracking. Presently when a company produces energy it requires verification form other companies and each step eats into profits – a more efficient system would be use blockchains to verify the system by cutting out the middleman. The blockchain also provides a transparent solution that makes for easier monitoring and accountability than what’s currently provided.

The blockchain being used the example below is powered using my favourite cryptocurrency Ethereum. It is another way that distributed ledger systems mixed with computing power can alter our economies for the better.

Keeping track of renewable-energy certificates is one of dozens of potential applications of blockchain technology that could solve data management challenges in the electricity sector without disrupting business as usual, according to Morris. He and many others believe that in the long term, the technology could help transform the very architecture of the grid itself.

To unleash the potential of blockchain in the energy sector, Jesse Morris’s team at RMI has joined with Austria-based blockchain startup Grid Singularity to create a new nonprofit called the Energy Web Foundation. Earlier this month, the EWF launched its own blockchain, which Morris says is “purpose-built for the energy sector.” Based on Ethereum, the network will be a test bed for promising use cases. To validate transactions during the test, EWF will rely on 10 major energy companies that have signed on as affiliates.

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Living Off the Grid in a Major City

Most people think living off the grid means living the countryside with your own well, reenable energy, and food source. The truth is that style of off the grid requires massive space to work (for example, a well needs a large area to collect water from), so that rural off the grid doesn’t work for everyone.

What is a person living in the city to do to get off the grid though?

Back in the 90s there was a competition throughout Canada to figure that out. One winner is still living in his house that is off the grid in Toronto.

“We promised to make the house self-sufficient and not use any non-renewable fuel,” Paloheimo said.

“Despite the home’s high-tech appearance, most of the products and systems are simple and straightforward,” said Chris Ives, CMHC project manager, said in a Toronto Healthy House report published after the house was built.

“Off-grid houses do not necessarily require hours of labour for upkeep. In fact, everything in the house is easy to maintain and available in today’s marketplace.”

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International Leaders of Geothermal Energy Agree to Work Together

industry

Geothermal energy is very simple in principal: drill a hole into the hot earth and use the naturally occurring heat to get turbines spinning. In practice it can be very hard. To bridge the practical difficulties getting geothermal around the world running leaders behind the technology are gathered in Florence to discuss ways to accelerate adoption. They are in the process of creating a framework to share knowledge and expertise to ensure that this form of renewable energy gets used in more places.

From their press release:

Minister of Environment, Mr. Gian Luca Galletti stated: “Italy considers the Paris Agreement to be irreversible and non-negotiable and therefore strives to promote geothermal and other renewable energy sources as a vital component for the planet’s sustainable development.”

“Geothermal’s vast potential is currently untapped,” he continued. “We must develop new technologies and encourage new investments to ensure we cover this gap. The Alliance will multiply its efforts to guide this process, and Italy will provide its contribution with its long experience and know-how.”

Ms. Teresa Bellanova, Italy’s Vice Minister of Economy and Development, said: “Geothermal energy’s consistent and continuous availability make it a highly precious source of renewable energy both in Italy and many countries all over the world. Through our knowledge of the industry, Italy can play an important role in achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement, in addition to stimulating sustainable job creation.”

Director General of IRENA, Mr. Adnan. Z. Amin, said: “This meeting has, without question, allowed both the policy and industry communities to identify common ground in the pursuit of what is a renewable energy source with tremendous potential.

“If we can identify and implement mechanisms that deliver a greater level of certainty to investors and developers, then we will move beyond meaningful dialogue to decisive action that accelerates geothermal production,” continued Mr. Amin, “contributing significantly to decarbonisation of the global economy, whilst creating jobs and supporting growth around the world.”

For more context go here.

Improved Air Conditioner Beams Heat Into Space


Air conditioner suck up a lot of energy in hotter months by dumping heat from inside buildings to the outside, ironically heating up neighbouring locations. A Stanford research team developed a more efficient cooling system for AC by pre-cooling water that circulates through the machine. It cools water during the night by essentially beaming the eat out into space, which surprisingly uses less energy than current solutions.

For the new fluid-cooling system, the researchers made radiative panels that were each one-third of a square meter in area; they attached the panels to an aluminum heat exchanger plate with copper pipes embedded in it. The setup was enclosed in an acrylic box covered with a plastic sheet.

The team tested it on a rootop on the Stanford campus. Over three days of testing, they found that water temperatures went down by between 3- and 5 °C. The only electricity it requires is what’s needed to pump water through the copper pipes. Water that flowed more slowly was cooled more.

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Wind Power: One of the Cheapest Sources of Energy

wind turbine

Sustainable and renewable energy sources continue to get more cost effective when compared to fossil fuel based energy. This is fantastic since the economics of scale are really kicking into effect around solar and wind technology. Thanks to better and more production wind turbines have become more effective and energy grids have gotten more capable of incorporating the inconsistent energy production.

Improvements in wind turbine design have not only helped to increase the maximum power they can produce (or their generating capacity), but also their capacity factor, a measure of how often they actually produce energy. The average capacity factor of projects installed in 2014 and 2015 was over 40 percent — meaning they produced 40 percent of the maximum possible energy they could produce if it were very windy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

As the exceptionally low price of U.S. wind energy drives further wind farm installations, it will be interesting to see how U.S. grid operators manage the challenge of integrating wind energy with the rest of the grid. So far, at least, they’ve been successful. But policymakers and regulators should be cognizant of the need for new transmission capacity and other grid upgrades to integrate wind as more turbines are installed in more places. Identifying the lowest cost investments to integrate the most renewable energy is not a simple task — but it will become increasingly vital as renewables throw off the “alternative energy” label and become a major contributor to the U.S. electricity supply.

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