LA blockchain renewables project wins $9m grant

  • June 2, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

A disadvantaged community in Los Angeles has been awarded more than $9m to use blockchain technology to provide affordable renewable energy.
The Energy Coalition, Community Electricity and a consortium of energy partners have been awarded the grant to support disadvantaged communities through the implementation of blockchain technologies.
The Energy Coalition and Community Electricity, in collaboration with UCLA and a consortium of partners, will receive the California Energy Commission (CEC) Epic grant.
The Basset-Avocado Advanced Energy Community (BAAEC) is a local community that is defined as the site host of the project. The consortium will deploy a versatile model focused on providing affordable, locally produced renewable energy and energy services at scale within the disadvantaged community.
This model will further support communities highly affected by the Covid-19 crisis, introducing a feasible and concrete protocol to decarbonise and improve the overall health of the community.
The BAAEC, a 28,000-resident community, will serve enrolled participants using a complex system comprised of seven main components:

  • Digital application to engage and guide community members towards decarbonisation
  • Smart community solar and storage system to offset annual electricity load
  • Campus microgrid resilience hub to provide clean back-up power to the community in emergencies, severe heat days or blackouts
  • Prosumer network and a virtual power plant integrating 50 single-family homes equipped with solar photovoltaic and battery storage to demonstrate a blockchain community network pilot
  • Mobile grid that includes a community-operated EV vanpooling service and a network of fast EV charging stations to decrease the use of fossil fuel vehicles, reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality
  • Indoor-outdoor smart pollution sensor network including an IoT-based NOx emissions monitoring system to measure and improve emissions from fossil fuel vehicles still operating within the community
  • Mobile living laboratory to perform rounds periodically throughout the community, measuring and reporting real-time decarbonisation impact

The design of the prototype began as phase I in 2016. Phase II is expected to start implementation this month, with targeting to be completed by 2023.

“California’s disadvantaged communities and the cap-and-trade money allocation across these vulnerable communities, give rise to the perfect formula to design a feasible community-scale decarbonisation strategy,” said Luis Felipe Cano, Community Electricity CEO. “Our data-driven decarbonisation protocol – a new social and economic community system – is designed to empower community members with multiple options towards clean electrification resulting in collective gains, including quality of life improvement and economic benefits derived from the sale of locally produced electricity and carbon credits.”

Cano said the motivation and potential were huge.

“Approximately two thousand similar disadvantaged communities could benefit from this protocol inside California, and even more when we replicate the formula outside the state,” Cano said. “We are excited to be part of the co-development of this multi-asset community-scale prototype using a blockchain backbone, making this advanced energy community the biggest and most versatile in the world when built out.”

Funding for the project comes from the Electric Program Investment Charge (Epic) programme, which supports clean energy research in California. The BAAEC prototype phases I and II total investment will be close to $20m, including partner matching funds.

Additional partners in the prototype build-out include Aclima, Ampere Energy, Enel X, Google, Green Commuter, EVShare, Grid Alternatives, IoT Sensorcom, Purple Air, Solarays, Sonnen, Space AI, StrongBlock, Tetra Innovations Group, Tritium and Winn Energy Control.

The Energy Coalition (TEC) is a California-based nonprofit with over 45 years of experience designing and implementing programmes and strategies that transform energy use and empower communities to take action. By bringing ideas, technology and expertise to public agencies, businesses, educators, policy makers and others, TEC is creating the building blocks for a new energy economy in which communities become energy-producing networks and clean energy becomes affordable and accessible for everyone.

Community Electricity is a Los Angeles-based electricity community developer that designs, finances, develops and manages self-sufficient electricity communities. It specialises in upgrading existing communities and co-developing new communities. It uses a decarbonisation protocol that integrates real estate with such clean technologies as solar photovoltaic, energy storage, electric vehicle and charging infrastructure, and pollution sensors.

A key innovation is interconnecting these systems to a blockchain middleware to certify and mine data. The community-owned-data are orchestrated by a community operating system that aggregates, manages and increases efficiencies while digitalising and decarbonising communities, creating a new social and economic system, benefitting the wellbeing of people first.