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Connecting Communities for Greater Efficiency

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Nevelyn Black's picture
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Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

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Nancy Min, founder of ecoLong, is helping communities become more energy efficient.  Her software tech company aims to increase the accessibility of clean energy for communities that may not otherwise have access to it. Min hopes to realize that goal by rolling out ecoLong’s software platform in underserved and underrepresented communities in the next few years. Min explains, “Our mission at ecoLong is to build interconnected and resilient communities, which includes the development of our blockchain-based energy marketplace that provides communities with equitable access to clean energy.” ecoLong is empowering people to trade excess energy to neighbors using blockchain technology.  According to Global Market Insights Inc., blockchain technology in the energy market is predicted to rise from $200 million in 2018 to $18 billion by 2025.  A Blockchain In Energy report by Wood Makenzie revealed that 59 percent of blockchain energy projects are building peer-to-peer energy markets. A peer-to-peer energy market is a shared network of individuals who trade and buy excess energy from other participants. 

Blockchain technology company, ConsenSys, boast the benefits of blockchain in energy and its potential to increase efficiency.  ‘Blockchain can provide consumers greater efficiency and control over their energy sources. Additionally, an immutable ledger provides secure and real-time updates of energy usage data.’  

The benefits of blockchain don’t stop there.  "For example,” Min explained, “a home with a solar PV rooftop may be producing more energy than they can consume, and would be able to use our platform to sell that excess energy to their neighbor. The same home could also trade energy resources with the grid to provide grid ancillary services, transforming homes into grid-interactive efficient buildings.”  Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEBs) combine energy efficiency and demand flexibility with smart technologies.  The Department of Energy estimates, by the end of this decade, smart buildings could save up to $18 billion a year in system costs. To promote connected communities, the DOE has awarded $61 million for ten GEB research and development projects.  The projects will demonstrate how energy efficient and grid-interactive technologies can transform homes and workplaces into connected communities.  A connected community of grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) could be programmed to share resources, reduce energy use and be paired with renewable energy sources.  

Slipstream Group Inc., in partnership with Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) is one of the ten awarded a grant.  The research group will equip 15 local buildings with smart technologies.  “We want to use the city as a test bed and then build an MGE pilot in the broader community,” said Scott Schuetter, principal engineer with Slipstream. Combining renewable energy with blockchain technology may be the boost the industry needs to accelerate energy efficiency.  “We want to see not only buildings that are energy efficient but also have that grid-interactive capability.  We think they’re both necessary. They go hand in hand,” Dale Hoffmeyer, technology manager in the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, said.

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