Prosumers, blockchain and the Thai power grid
Thailand’s disruptive solar energy technology developments
Thailand’s regulatory bodies are in the process to allow industrial solar rooftop power producers to connect to the national electricity grid to get access to a blockchain-powered peer-to-peer trade of renewable energy. This will open the sun gate to substantial investments in solar rooftop developments.
ESB: The national utility EGAT started already a peer-to-peer power trade test-run from solar rooftops. Under the enhanced single buyer concept (ESB), EGAT is the sole power buyer for energy projects of over 10 MW, while MEA and PEA oversee the purchase of electricity from projects of less than 10 MW.
Blockchain: It is the declared intention of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to transform traditional power distribution from large power plants into a blockchain system, to decentralize the overall management from the state utilities EGAT/MEA/PEA to a production-by-consumer (prosumer) system.
Prosumers, blockchain and the Thai power grid
Prosumer: Under the new prosumer business model, solar PV owners will be connected to the grid and pay to the public utilities a transmission fee for retail power trading based on how much the power is transferred and how congested the line is. In the first phase, private power purchase agreements are limited to industrial estates. The tentative business model is the installation and operation of solar rooftops for commercial buildings and households, however, these limitations in power trade will finally fall. Thailand’s Energy Minister ist quoted with the words “The power sector needs to adopt new technologies. The limitations need to be waived to facilitate requests.” -Bangkok Post, 10/02/20
Microgrid: By such a structure, prosumer can establish a virtual microgrid to buy and sell energy. Blockchain technology saves individuals the drudgery of switching between sending power and receiving it. If there is a surplus from all participants, it can be sold to the local energy storage system, and to the grid in the future.
High-level blockchain goals: To facilitate the peer2peer energy trade, this requires a private permission blockchain. Its general goals are to exploit new business models and eliminate inefficiencies, to streamline business processes and the exchange of value along with the ecosystem, and to replace uncertainty with transparency and a trusted decentralized ledger.
Win-win: Basically, the model combines an energy utility, the Thai regulator, and a financial network provider. This is a win-win-win solution: Small electricity producers can access a new energy market, the public utilities expand their services, and as a result, the value of the Thai energy network is extended.
The blockchain-based energy market provides increased efficiency and clear traceability from energy generation to token issuance to redemption. Energy regulators can better predict future supply and demand. Household’s and retailers have increased trust via transactions carried out on the blockchain.
Proof-of-concept: First pilot projects in the land of smile
Pilot projects: Solar power with a total capacity of 635 kW will be traded peer-to-peer (P2P) across the meter among four participating entities at Bangkok’s T77 precinct – a shopping center, international school, serviced apartments and a dental hospital. The trial is realized in partnership with Thai utility Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA), which is allowing access to its network for the physical transaction of energy between participants.
Sansiri: The Thai real estate developer Sansiri alone plans to roll out similar energy trading systems with solar panels and blockchain for a total capacity of 2 MW by 2021.
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