Australian cryptocurrency startup Power Ledger heads to Japan
Osaka is trying out distributed energy with a small Power Ledger trial.
On Tuesday afternoon Power Ledger announced that it signed a deal with Kansai Electric Power Co (KEPCO), a mostly-Osaka-owned Japanese utility company, to commence a small sample of distributed energy systems. The test will run across 10 households, and give Osaka a chance to try out the system and familiarise itself with decentralised energy distribution, the Financial Review reports.
The trial will let KEPCO share meter data from the participating households, and sell their excess energy peer to peer in real-time. The trial will run until March 2019.
Power Ledger is an Australian-based cryptocurrency that lets people trade energy to monetise a surplus from home energy systems like solar panels, and get cheaper energy than they can from the grid from buying the surplus off others. It's relatively unknown compared to cryptocurrency giants like bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, but has the unique distinction of launching Australia's first initial coin offering (ICO), which raised $34 million.
Power Ledger systems are already being trialled in Thailand and India, but Power Ledger managing director and co-founder David Martin said the prospect of getting into Osaka, a city of almost 9 million, would help it roll out its envisioned decentralised virtual power plant.
"The industry used to twitch when we first started talking about peer-to-peer trading saying 'that's not how the system works'," Martin said. "The fact that KEPCO is exploring the Power Ledger platform as a solution is a massive indication that the industry has accepted that change is inevitable."
"The energy industry is traditionally conservative, and rightly so. When they implement changes consumers are relying on them to be certain it's the right direction. It's just a growing recognition of distributed energy resources as opposed to traditional utility systems managing energy."
"But it is coming around to the notion of distributed renewables or distributed energy supplies because of the resilience they provide as well. You now have cities such as New York who are actively looking at DERs [distributed energy resources] as a way of mitigating the effects of climate change."
In addition to hopefully offering customers straight up better value for money energy, Power Ledger aims to shape the future of energy in softer ways too. One of them is by encouraging the uptake of home renewable energy solutions by offering more direct ways to profit from their installation.
"Premium feed-in tariffs just aren't sustainable and consumers are seeing that wash away and feeling the unfair nature of having to sell energy back into the grid for 6 cents only to have to buy back at 28 or 29 cents later that night," Mr Martin said. Another is by eventually funding and building its own renewables power plants to plug into its decentralised system.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VEN, XLM, BTC, NANO