Companies Will Collaborate on Blockchain Tool for U.S. Power Market

A subsidiary of grid operator PJM Interconnection has joined with a Switzerland-based group to build and evaluate a blockchain-based tool to help the U.S. power generation industry.

Energy Web Foundation (EWF) and PJM Environmental Information Services (PJM-EIS) on October 25 said they would collaborate on developing and testing a reference implementation of EWF’s open-source Energy Web Origin product. This EWF said it would develop a toolkit of EW Origin over the next year with a goal of meeting technological, regulatory, and business needs of PJM-EIS for its Generation Attribute Tracking System (GATS) in the U.S.

EW Origin “is a customizable, open-source, decentralized toolkit for renewable energy and carbon markets that simplifies and enhances the way in which customers procure renewable energy,” according to EWF. The groups said the pilot project will allow PJM-EIS to “investigate the potential benefits of blockchain technology to improve the security, transparency, and transaction costs of GATS.”

PJM-EIS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PJM Connext, L.L.C., which is a subsidiary of PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization that operates the power grid in 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The GATS product is a paid subscription service that creates and tracks a generator-specific electronic certificate for every megawatt-hour of electricity produced by a generator. The system tracks the environmental and emissions attributes of generation, along with the ownership of credits as they are traded or used to meet governmental renewable-energy standards.

The EWF and PJM-EIS collaboration will focus on PJM’s regional GATS market. It will develop, test, and make available a full implementation of the blockchain-based EW Origin toolkit. The companies said “EW Origin helps unlock renewables investments by reducing administrative and transaction costs, modernizing user experience, and enabling greater access for renewable energy markets (including for smaller buyers and sellers below the megawatt-hour level).”

Ken Schuyler, president of PJM-EIS, said, “We are excited for the opportunity to collaborate with Energy Web Foundation and gain experience with a new technology. Our customers have expressed interest in incorporating blockchain technology into our services, and we look forward to leveraging the technology where it can provide additional benefits.”

EWF said it is developing EW Origin as “a state-of-the-art toolkit for renewable energy markets across the globe that leverages blockchain technology to record the provenance and automatically track the ownership of renewably generated energy. EWF is developing EW Origin as an open-source toolkit for issuing bodies and registries across the globe that oversee renewable energy certificate (REC), guarantee of origin (GO), international renewable energy certificate (I-REC), and other similar green energy attribute systems.”

EWF said that “Applications built with the EW Origin toolkit will offer issuing bodies, registries, and market participants of any size greater transparency, disintermediation, aggregation, interoperability, automation, and overall user experience at a lower cost compared to existing technology services.”

The EWF—PJM-EIS project is expected to run between now and November 2019.

“This collaboration between EWF and PJM-EIS is a major milestone for the adoption of advanced digital technologies in the energy sector,” said Hervé Touati, CEO of Energy Web Foundation. “We are excited to partner with a leader such as PJM-EIS.”

EWF said its goal with this collaboration “is to demonstrate how large numbers of distributed energy assets—in the tens or hundreds of thousands—can participate in renewable energy certificate markets, operating at a price point where it is economically feasible to bring even small rooftop solar installations to these markets. EW Origin can do this by standardizing and automating processes such as physical asset registration, asset authentication through digital signatures, secure data logging, REC creation and validation, REC ownership registration, and REC retirement.”

EWF said it will make the full EW Origin toolkit publicly available for reference to be used as a template by other REC, GO, and I-REC trading and tracking systems, so that application developers can build and deploy their own modernized technology services for issuing bodies, registries, and market participants worldwide. EWF said application developers also can “reference and use the EW Origin toolkit to develop electric vehicle, battery, and other energy-focused applications running on the Energy Web Chain where enhanced traceability of energy generation provides value.”

More information on the project can be found at the EWF website.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).