Are you interested in taking advantage of renewable energy alternatives? Want to be more energy efficient? Would you feel better if paying your energy bill meant feeding money back into your community? What if there was a way you could buy your electricity directly from your neighbor instead of a big energy company?
In Brooklyn, New York, a new microgrid network allows neighbors to buy and sell solar and wind energy through a peer-to-peer network. This microgrid runs on a technology called Ethereum that was created for secure bitcoin transactions and monitors energy flowing through the system and tracks the buying and selling exchanges between peers. While not everyone has the location or means to implement renewable energy technologies, this system makes it easy to take advantage of the surplus energy generated by community members that do.
The benefits that microgrids hold for communities is undeniable. They are small energy-systems that operate independently from the grid and therefore can be disconnected in the event of a disaster, protecting connected members from power outages. In addition, microgrids retain the power that is typically lost when electricity has to travel long distances over transmission lines. Not having to rely on a central power plant and being able to ensure a continuous energy supply adds to the benefits of a peer-to-peer system like the one in Brooklyn.
It’s obvious that developing a system like this will not be without red tape and hoops to jump through as it will require contracts, financing, design, etc. A peer-to-peer system is a new concept, but an important one to consider as we look beyond traditional business models in an effort to improve and secure our energy future.
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