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REUTERS: In a posh Bangkok neighborhood, residents trade energy with blockchain

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Residents in a Bangkok neighborhood are trying out a renewable energy trading platform that allows them to buy and sell electricity between themselves, signaling the growing popularity of such systems as solar panels get cheaper.

The pilot project in the center of Thailand’s capital is among the world’s largest peer-to-peer renewable energy trading platforms using blockchain, according to the firms involved.

The system has a total generating capacity of 635 KW that can be traded via Bangkok city’s electricity grid between a mall, a school, a dental hospital and an apartment complex.

Commercial operations will begin next month, said David Martin, managing director of Power Ledger, an Australian firm that develops technology for the energy industry and is a partner in the project.

“By enabling trade in renewable energy, the community meets its own energy demands, leading to lower bills for buyers, better prices for sellers, and a smaller carbon footprint for all,” he said.

“It will encourage more consumers to make the switch to renewable energy, as the cost can be offset by selling excess energy to neighbors,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Neighborhoods from New York to Melbourne are upending the way power is produced and sold, with solar panels, mini grids and smart meters that can measure when energy is consumed rather than overall consumption.

The World Energy Council predicts that such decentralized energy will grow to about a fourth of the market in 2025 from 5 percent today.

Helping it along is blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins bitcoin currency, which offers a transparent way to handle complex transactions between users, producers, and even traders and utilities.

Blockchain also saves individuals the drudgery of switching between sending power and receiving it, said Martin.

For the pilot in Bangkok’s up...

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