02.05.2017 |

Stabilizing the power grid with households: TenneT and sonnen are pioneering the networking of storage batteries with blockchain technology

  • TenneT is the first power grid operator to use decentralized residential storage batteries that are networked via blockchain to stabilize the power grid
  • Flexible use of storage batteries by sonnen is reducing emergency measures required to stabilize the network
  • After a successful pilot phase, blockchain technology can now be further expanded via an open source-based solution by IBM

Bayreuth, Wildpoldsried, 2 May 2017. In the future, private households will be capable of contributing to the stabilization of the power grid by enabling better integration of renewable energies. As such, sonnen and power grid operator TenneT have partnered to successfully launch a pilot project integrating storage batteries into the power supply system via a blockchain solution.

Both sonnen and TenneT emphasize that this collaboration is the first of its kind, and a pioneering step forward for the future integration of renewable energies. Using a blockchain solution developed by IBM, and residential storage batteries from sonnen, the TenneT project intends to ascertain the extent to which these technologies help reduce the need for emergency measures, such as the regulation of wind parks, when the grid experiences bottlenecks. By interlinking residential storage batteries using sonnen eServices, the batteries’ intelligent charging management software adjusts independently to reflect changes in the TenneT grid status. Following this launch, TenneT and sonnen are facilitating better integration of renewable energies into the power supply system.

“Germany’s retreat from nuclear and fossil-fuel energy means more renewable energies at all levels of the grid, which presents significant challenges,” said Urban Keussen, CEO of TenneT TSO GmbH. “We must be flexible with regards to our management of energy production, namely solar and wind, that is inconsistent and highly contingent on the weather. Utilizing blockchain technology offers us new ways to network even locally distributed systems both safely and intelligently across multiple regions with one provider. This helps us to limit the use of network-stabilizing measures, such as the costly regulation of wind farms.”

Mr. Keussen continued, “In the future, we will waste less wind and solar power because of inability to transport it. TenneT is pioneering this process of better integrating decentralized renewable energies and ensuring energy supply. With this innovative project, we are offering citizens a way to help actively shape how Germany reduces its dependence on nuclear and fossil-fuel energy. Projects such as this complement network expansion and are key elements of the energy transition, as more intensive use of power generation data and new grid flexibility, are all helping us safely operate the power grid in spite of the increasing proportion of fluctuating renewable energy.”

“Sonnen is already networking thousands of users and generators of renewable energies via our sonnenCommunity,” said Philipp Schröder, Managing Director and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at sonnen. “However, the future of power generation will be composed of millions of small, decentralized power sources, including both prosumers and consumers. The blockchain technology is what makes mass simultaneous exchange between all these parties possible in the first place, and is thus the missing link to a decentralized, completely CO2-free energy future.”

Transportation bottlenecks in the power grid are an increasing occurrence due to the growing feed-in of decentralized renewable energies. To help avoid these “traffic jams” on the power grid highway, TenneT and the other grid operators intervene in both conventional and renewable power generation, by redispatching energy using grid reserves and regulating wind farms – effectively reducing the amount of power that has to be transported.

In 2016 alone, these measures cost Germany approximately EUR 800 million, a large part of which was for wind farm regulation. Ultimately these high costs are passed on to power consumers in the form of network charges. In addition to enabling network expansion, the additional ‘flexibility’ generated by batteries can help limit the use of expensive, manual network stabilizing measures, saving consumers money.

In the pilot project, sonnen and TenneT will provide additional grid flexibility in the form of interlinked residential storage batteries that are available to grid operators to help manage bottlenecks in the network. These networked storage batteries can absorb and release excess power in seconds, as needed, reducing energy transportation bottlenecks in the power grid. By taking advantage of this new grid flexibility and promoting a deeper use of power generation data, this project is just one of the solutions that TenneT is implementing to ensure the power grid has the capacity to cope with the challenges presented by Germany’s exit from nuclear and fossil-fuel energy.

For sonnen, this blockchain technology is a next step towards the future using clean, decentralized energy. sonnen eServices GmbH, operator of the sonnenCommunity, is the first partner to sign up for the TenneT project, one that represents the next step in developing a simpler and more effective energy network of storage batteries, solar power plants, and power grids.

The digital process of verifying and documenting the performance values of these distributed flexible energy devices is delivered using IBM Blockchain, built with Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain framework implementation and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation. IBM will develop this platform to ensure the verifiability and transparency of the transactions of the small-scale batteries. This solution plays a significant role in ensuring that transactions between market players are transparent and verifiable, which is expected to considerably simplify how suppliers of locally distributed flexible energy will provide services to support power grid operators in future. The blockchain facilitates and streamlines implementation, fulfilling TenneT’s requirements for data security and precision while ensuring restricted access and privacy.

About TenneT

TenneT is a leading European electricity transmission system operator (TSO) with its main activities in the Netherlands and Germany. With over 22,000 kilometres of high-voltage connections we ensure a secure supply of electricity to 41 million end-users. We employ approximately 3,000 people, have a turnover of EUR 3.2 billion and an asset value totalling EUR 19 billion. TenneT is one of Europe’s major investors in national and cross-border grid connections on land and at sea, bringing together the Northwest European energy markets and enabling the energy transition.  We take every effort to meet the needs of society by being responsible, engaged and connected.  Taking power further

About sonnen

The sonnen Group is one of the fastest growing companies in Germany. In a ranking of the ‘Top 50 Smartest Companies 2016’ by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), sonnen GmbH was listed alongside Amazon, Facebook and Tesla. Investors in the Bavarian company include the US technology corporation General Electric. sonnen already supplies over 60,000 people globally with clean energy. Based on the blockchain idea, the sonnenCommunity is an online network for sharing self-generated power.