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Latrobe Valley virtual microgrid could allow dairy farms to trade energy via blockchain

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Staff Writer | April 27, 2018
Latrobe Valley dairy farmers could be buying and selling locally generated renewable energy using blockchain, thanks to a study funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Latrobe Valley
Technology   Farmers would be able to participate at no upfront cost
On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA announced $370,000 in funding for a feasibility study into a "virtual microgrid" for the Latrobe Valley.

The $775,000 project will be led by Brooklyn-based energy company LO3 Energy and focuses on the feasibility of creating a "virtual microgrid" across up to 200 dairy farms, over 100 household consumers and around 20 other commercial and industrial customers in the Gippsland region.

A "virtual microgrid" is a local marketplace of connected energy users who can buy and sell electricity within a localised area.

The virtual microgrid will incorporate solar PV, battery storage, smart appliances and enabling technologies combined with the LO3’s Exergy peer-to-peer energy trading platform which uses blockchain technology to allow participants to securely buy and sell locally produced renewable energy.

This marketplace would allow Gippsland farmers to take greater control of their energy use, providing the opportunity to sell their solar power back to the grid, delivering savings on their energy bills.

Participants would be linked in an internet-of-things-based marketplace while using AusNet’s distribution network. Participants would have a combination of solar, battery and smart devices to generate and store energy and manage usage.

Farmers would be able to participate at no upfront cost through loans provided by the Sustainable Melbourne Fund, repaid through council rates.

The study is expected to be completed by end of 2018, and if successful the pilot microgrid could be rolled out in Gippsland in 2019.

The project involves a consortium of partners including AusNet Services, Sustainable Melbourne Fund, Dairy Australia and Siemens.