AGL to test blockchain-inspired energy trading

Electricity retailer AGL has revealed details of a plan to stage a desktop trial of peer-to-peer energy trading by households using distributed ledger technology inspired by Bitcoin’s blockchain.

The idea was conceived in the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s A-Lab. In addition to AGL and Arena, it’s supported by IBM and Marchment Hill Consulting.

The idea is to study how distributed ledger technology could allow households with solar panels, batteries and ‘smart’ air conditioning to trade excess energy.

“As a leading energy retailer we see our role as a key provider and enabler of new, customer-centric energy solutions that utilise innovation technology including the sharing or trading of energy,” said AGL executive general manager, new energy, Elisabeth Brinton.

“This trial will help us learn how blockchain could facilitate this kind of transaction.”

AGL said the trial is expected to be completed by July. Marchment Hill will provide market analysis while IBM will focus on how blockchain can be applied to recognising, authenticating and settling energy trading, the energy company said.

“We’d like to explore new technologies and mechanisms to allow consumers and business to trade their own renewable energy with each other and with network companies,” ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said.

“Ultimately these investigations are about getting the most value out of solar and battery systems through a more flexible and modern marketplace.”

AGL yesterday announced plans to promote its chief information officer, Simon Moorfield. Moorfield will now report directly to the company’s CEO, Andy Vesey, and be part of AGL’s executive team.

In Australia, AGL is not alone in examining the potential of distributed ledger technology. Australia Post and Blackmores are partnering with e-commerce giant Alibaba on a project that will see if blockchain can help combat counterfeit and fraudulent food products.

Australia’s banks are also experimenting with blockchain technology including for issuing bonds and smart contracts. The ASX is assessing distributed ledger technology as a replacement for its CHESS system, which provides equity post-trade services.

Earlier this year the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) released guidance to help Australian corporations that are considering the technology.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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