London startup performs UK's first blockchain energy trade

A London-based firm has conducted the UK's first physical blockchain energy trade, which has enabled housing estate residents to benefit from renewable energy sources.

The results of the Hackney Banister House Estate trial will be used to roll out more energy trading communities across the UK

The results of the Hackney Banister House Estate trial will be used to roll out more energy trading communities across the UK

The Government-backed trial, taking place at Hackney’s Banister House Estate, uses machine learning startup Verv’s renewable energy trading platform, which allows customers with renewable energy supplies and battery storage to sell surplus power directly to their neighbours.

The first trade on Wednesday (11 April) saw 1kWh of energy sent from an array of solar panels on one of the block’s roofs to a resident living in another block within the estate.

“We’re so pleased to be bringing the Verv renewable energy trading platform to life on Hackney’s Banister House Estate, we want to use this technology to empower the residents to innovate and create their own trading community,” Verv’s chief executive Peter Davies said.

Through Verv’s AI-based smart hub, which combines machine learning functionality with blockchain, and Powervault batteries in communal areas, the platform is able to calculate the energy demand profile of homes. It can also determine the solar energy supply in each battery and, as a result, allocate low-carbon energy to residents based on their needs.

Verv expects the reduction in energy costs to be “significant” considering that many of the residents are on expensive pre-pay meters.

The trial, which has received funding from InnovateUK, is currently in phase one, and is underway in collaboration with not-for-profit Repowering London. Verv plans to use the results of the trial to roll out more energy trading communities across the UK.

New tech on the block

Acting as a digital ledger, blockchain creates a verifiable audit trail that can be used for any transaction, and this is where its impact on sustainability begins to take shape. Blockchain can be implemented – and in some cases, is already used – across numerous sectors, from forestry and fisheries to carbon accounting and energy.

Blockchain is already being used by the likes of Nestlé, Unilever and Walmart to improve traceability in global food supply chains, while a blockchain start-up recently launched a new initiative to support global projects that tackle plastic pollution.

George Ogleby


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