City of Fremantle readies AU$8m energy and water blockchain project

The Australian government, alongside private investors, will be funding the project trialling the use of blockchain-powered distributed energy and water systems southwest of Perth.

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Image: Supplied

Western Australia's City of Fremantle will be trialling the use of blockchain under a project hoping to assess how cities can use the technology, alongside data analytics, to integrate distributed energy and water systems.

The trial involves academic, infrastructure, and technology partners, including Perth-based blockchain startup Power Ledger, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Western Power, and the government-backed Co-operative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living.

The trial will see resilient, low-carbon, and low-cost systems installed and connected using blockchain technology. A large solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, rooftop solar PV panels, a precinct-sized battery, an electric vehicle charge station, and precinct water treatment and capture systems will also be orchestrated using blockchain technology and data analytics, Power Ledger said.

It is expected the trial will demonstrate the interconnected infrastructure of future smart cities.

The Australian government spent AU$2.57 million in funding for the project last week, as part of the government's inaugural Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, which promised 52 projects a total of AU$28.5 million in funding.

The additional AU$5.68 million for the blockchain initiative will be funded through project partners.

Under the two-year project slated to commence before the year is out, Curtin University has responsibility for project management duties and will carry out the research underpinning the project.

"We will develop a smart metering, battery storage, and blockchain trading system to allow energy and water efficiencies between critical dispersed infrastructures that would otherwise have required physical co-location," professor Greg Morrison of Curtin University said.

Similarly, Murdoch University will provide research support on alternative district water supply and storage schemes that will be used to provide water, capacity, and ancillary services to each other and the grid.

Curtin Institute for Computation and the CSIRO's Data61 will provide the data analytics required to generate insights from the project, and WA real estate developer LandCorp is expected to monitor the project's success in order to explore alternative water and energy systems that are connected to smart technology.

Meanwhile, Power Ledger, which recently launched an energy sharing initiative with Origin Energy, will provide the transactional layer for the renewable assets, in addition to the ownership model for the community-owned battery.

Other WA beneficiaries of the government's Smart Cities and Suburbs Program were the City of Perth, which was given AU$1,314,494 for Smart Cities Collaboration in the state's capital.

City of Joondalup -- which has already been deploying smart cities solutions with Telstra -- received AU$867,000 for Smart Monitoring and Management Yellagonga Wetlands; University of Western Australia got AU$500,000 for RailSmart Planning Wanneroo; RAC WA Holdings has given AU$490,000 for an automated vehicle trial in Perth; Waardi Limited gained AU$190,000 for Solar Energy Solutions Broome; City of Gosnells was handed AU$132,781 for Energy Efficient Housing in South Perth; and the Shire of Collie was awarded AU$118,088 for Smart Emergency and Fire Management Collie.

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