​Origin Energy trials blockchain energy sharing initiative with Power Ledger

The trial is expected to explore the 'benefits and challenges' of customers buying and selling energy to and from their neighbours using blockchain-based technology.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Australian energy retailer Origin has partnered with Perth-based blockchain startup Power Ledger to trial an energy sharing platform that uses blockchain technology to create an immutable record of energy generation and consumption.

The trial involves using anonymised and historical customer data to explore the benefits and challenges of peer-to-peer energy trading across the network, with the companies looking to prove the accuracy and security of the Power Ledger trading platform. It will essentially investigate the viability of consumers buying and selling energy to and from their neighbours.

"Peer-to-peer energy trading presents an opportunity to unlock enormous value for consumers; it disintermediates the energy supply model putting consumers in direct contact with other consumers," Power Ledger MD David Martin said.

"Exploring technology options with Origin that could allow consumers to take more control of their energy purchasing options highlights how the needs and expectations of energy users are changing in Australia."

In a statement, Origin's Future Energy GM Tony Lucas said that while it's still fairly early days for such technology, his company is keen to explore the potential benefits that peer-to-peer energy trading could offer customers.

"Power Ledger is one of a number of emerging technologies we're currently exploring, which we believe could help us meet the changing needs of our customers," Lucas explained.

"We hope the trial will help us better understand the value proposition for consumers, as well as the regulatory and technical implications of the peer-to-peer trading model."

Power Ledger recently joined forces with renewable energy systems provider Project Brainstorm to bring the benefits of renewable energy trading via the blockchain to Queenslanders.

The partnership follows a similar one in Tasmania with another renewable energy company Nest Energy, who announced they would be working on a distributed renewable energy generation model in Launceston.

A few days prior, the Perth-based firm raised AU$17 million in a pre-sale initial coin offering.

The application of blockchain technology has come a long way since it emerged as the underlying technology that facilitated the use of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

Universities in Australia have embraced the distributed ledger technology, with the likes of RMIT in Melbourne establishing a Blockchain Innovation Hub and Sydney University building a new blockchain technology, dubbed Red Belly Blockchain, that they believe has the potential to revolutionise the global economy, as some examples.

Australian corporates are also embracing blockchain technology, with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, in partnership with Wells Fargo and Brighann Cotton, claiming the first inter-bank trade transaction combining blockchain technology, smart contracts, and the IoT last October.

Australia's incumbent telco Telstra announced in September 2016 that it was experimenting with a combination of blockchain and biometric security for its IoT smart home offerings.

In addition, a project using a shared, distributed ledger that can store complete transaction history has almost been completed by the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX); while the Sydney Stock Exchange (SSX) announced a project recently that would see it instantly settle trades using blockchain technology with the help of Sydney-based Bit Trade Labs.

Last month, the Australian blockchain sector received a boost with the formation of the Australian Parliamentary Friends of Blockchain group, to be led by Liberal Senator Jane Hume and Labor Senator Sam Dastyari and expected to provide a forum for members and senators to meet and interact on all things cryptocurrency.

Meanwhile, Standards Australia has been charged with managing the secretariat of an international technical committee for the development of blockchain standards by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Along with 16 ISO member bodies including Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Estonia, Japan, and South Korea, Australia will facilitating the development of ISO/TC 307 Blockchain and electronic distributed ledger technologies.

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