Aaron Fernando at Shareable: “The volatility in the price of cryptocurrencies doesn’t matter to restaurateur Helena Fabiankovic, who started Baba’s Pierogies in Brooklyn with her partner Robert in 2015. Yet she and her business are already positioned to reap the real-world benefits of the technology that underpins these digital currencies — the blockchain — and they will be at the forefront of a sustainable, community-based peer-to-peer energy revolution because of it.
So what does a restaurateur have to do with the blockchain and local energy? Fabiankovic is one of the early participants in the Brooklyn Microgrid, a project of the startup LO3 Energy that uses a combination of innovative technologies — blockchain and smart meters — to operate a virtual microgrid in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City, New York. This microgrid enables residents to buy and sell green energy directly to their neighbors at much better rates than if they only interacted with centralized utility providers.
Just as we don’t pay much attention to the critical infrastructure that powers our digital world and exists just out of sight — from the Automated Clearing House (ACH), which undergirds our financial system, to the undersea cables that enable the Internet to be globally useful, blockchain is likely to change our lives in ways that will eventually be invisible. In the sharing economy, we have traditionally just used existing infrastructure and built platforms and services on top of it. Considering that those undersea cables are owned by private companies with their own motives and that the locations of ACH data centers are heavily classified, there is a lot to be desired in terms of transparency, resilience, and independence from self-interested third parties. That’s where open-source, decentralized infrastructure of the blockchain for the sharing economy offers much promise and potential.
In the case of Brooklyn Microgrid, which is part of an emerging model for shared energy use via the blockchain, this decentralized infrastructure would allow residents like Fabiankovic to save money and make sustainable choices. Shared ownership and community financing for green infrastructure like solar panels is part of the model. “Everyone can pay a different amount and you can get a proportional amount of energy that’s put off by the panel, based on how much that you own,” says Scott Kessler, director of business development at LO3. “It’s really just a way of crowdfunding an asset.”
The type of blockchain used by the Brooklyn Microgrid makes it possible to collect and communicate data from smart meters every second, so that the price of electricity can be updated in real time and users will still transact with each other using U.S. dollars. The core idea of the Brooklyn Microgrid is to utilize a tailored blockchain to align energy consumption with energy production, and to do this with rapidly-updated price information that then changes behavior around energy….(More)