Prosumers, blockchain and the Thai power grid
UPDATE AUGUST 2019: P2P Power Trade under Thailand’s Prosumer Scheme
The revised version of the power development plan (PDP) for 2018-37 is focused on new investments in renewable power by opening private participation and investment with local communities in order to share profit and revenue with locals.
This new regulatory framework opens new business opportunities for foreign solar companies in a peer-to-peer (P2P) power trading model to decentralize the power generation system in the land of smile. This will require to set-up a Thai company to enter into a joint-venture with small communities.
P2P power trading will include biomass, biogas, waste and solar energy, depending on the potential in each province. Existing and new power-distributing infrastructure and transmission lines will be the key factor when designing the venture. Thailand’s new Energy Minister is quoted in the local press “The project will be open for participation from businesses of all sizes that are interested in the electricity value chain, so peer-to-peer power trade can combine blockchain, smart power meters and a new sandbox for the power business.”
Thailand’s disruptive solar energy technology developments
End of August 2018, Thailand’s regulatory bodies announced their intention to allow 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.
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.
Under the new 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. This project had been scheduled to be launched at the beginning of 2019, while the required regulatory details had been promised to be introduced in the fourth quarter of 2018. As of today, this is still delayed.
By such 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 the ecosystem, and to replace uncertainty with transparency and a trusted decentralized ledger.
basically, the model combines an energy utility, the Thai regulator, and a financial network provider. This is a win-win-win solution: Small electricity producer 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.
Blockchain-based energy market provides increased efficiency and a clear traceability from energy generation to token issuance to redemption. The 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
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.
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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