Power Ledger and Silicon Valley Power to Track EV Low-Carbon Credits via Blockchain
Blockchain’s use in the energy space gets a new proof-of-concept deployment in Silicon Valley.
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Blockchain technology offers a potentially vital tool to securely track and exchange data across millions of participants in the new energy economy. But first, it needs to be tested out on a smaller scale.
One emerging use case: tracking the charging of electric vehicles at a big parking garage with solar panels and batteries, and creating “digitized tokens” of their value.
That’s the application being plotted by Santa Clara, Calif. municipal utility Silicon Valley Power (SVP), Australian energy blockchain startup Power Ledger, and its North American partner Clean Energy Blockchain Network. On Tuesday, the partners unveiled a pilot project to use Power Ledger’s blockchain platform across two key proof-of-concept use cases.
The first is to track the production and use of energy at the solar PV and battery-equipped six-story parking garage in the heart of the city’s entertainment district, including the energy being consumed by EVs parked at its 48 Level 2 chargers and one DC fast charger.
The second is to “digitize” those EV charging transactions to help the utility earn credits under the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB’s) Low Carbon Fuel Standard. This program offers EV fleet owners or EV charging network operators a potentially lucrative way to sell credits to fossil fuel refiners and producers — as long as they can handle the administrative costs and accounting challenges of adhering to its rules.
But these complications have proven too challenging for most potential players in the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) electric vehicle credit market, according to Rick Kubin, vice president of the Clean Energy Blockchain Network.
“The Low Carbon Fuel Standard as administered by CARB is currently a pretty onerous process,” he said. The accounting process for earning credits is complicated and conducted in real time, using metering data or other referents to calculate the amount of fossil fuel displaced per unit of EV charging.
At the same time, “It’s managed via spreadsheets, and it’s only reconciled once a quarter,” he said. Making mistakes in this ongoing accounting process could lead to serious problems further down the road in the LCFS credit-trading process, exposing participants to significant risk.
“Because of these issues in managing it at scale, although the program is available to any utility, it’s only been the big three investor-owned utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric— that have done anything with it,” said Kubin.
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