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AU$8 million project in City of Fremantle to explore blockchain-based distributed energy and water system

Image credit: Power Ledger

The Australian federal government is providing AU$2.57 million in funding for a trial of blockchain-powered distributed energy and water system in the city of Fremantle in Western Australia (WA) This is part of the inaugural Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

Last week, the Australian Government announced 52 successful projects under Round One of the Program. The government will award a total of AU$28.5 million to these projects. All projects are being co-funded by local governments, industry, research organisations and the private sector, and are delivering almost $40 million in partner co-investment, or about $1.40 for every Australian Government dollar invested.

This is the second biggest project on the list, after ‘Switching on Darwin’. Co-funding of AU$5.68 million will be provided by project partners including Curtin University, Murdoch University, Curtin Institute of Computation, LandCorp, CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) /Data61, CISCO and Power Ledger, adding up to a total project value of AU$8.26 million. The project will also be supported by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Western Power, and the CRC for Low Carbon Living.

Brad Pettitt, Mayor of the City of Fremantle, said, “We are delighted to host this project in the City of Fremantle. This collaboration between existing infrastructure, renewable energy and innovative technology fits with our One Planet zero carbon energy target and will help us to secure the ongoing sustainability of essential services for communities that live here.”

The project will happen over two years and it will commence within the next two months. A press release from Power Ledger explains that the project, which involves academic, infrastructure and technology partners, will assess how cities can use blockchain technology and data analytics to integrate distributed energy and water systems.

A large solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, rooftop solar PV panels, a precinct sized battery, an electric vehicle charge station and precinct water treatment and capture systems will be connected using blockchain technology and data analytics. The idea is to demonstrate the interconnected infrastructure of future smart cities.

Curtin University will be the project lead, with responsibility for technical and administrative project management duties. The University also plans to develop a smart metering, battery storage and blockchain trading system to allow energy and water efficiencies between critical dispersed infrastructures that would otherwise require physical co-location. Curtin University has also contributed the electric vehicle and fast charger.

Murdoch University will provide research support on alternative district water supply and storage schemes that will be used to provide water, capacity and ancillary services to each other and the grid.

Martin Anda, Academic Chair of Environmental Engineering, said, “This news is very exciting as we now have the opportunity to develop an entirely new precinct scale urban water system in Fremantle that will harmonise with the innovative Power Ledger Platform. I am thrilled with the prospect of commencing research, modelling and designing the novel water distribution infrastructure upgrades at Knutsford, through rainwater capture and wastewater recycling, with the City of Fremantle and the whole team.”

Curtin Institute for Computation and Data61 will provide the data analytics required to generate insights from these projects, while CISCO will support the project as part of its strategic partnership with Curtin University called Innovation Central Perth. CSIRO and Data61 will assist in the delivery of this project, by conducting megatrend analysis, risk analysis, statistical forecasting and systems modelling.

Glenn Platt, the Research Director of Grids & Energy Efficiency Systems, highlighted CSIRO’s experience  in collaborating with industry and government to build platforms, which he said will ensure that the data generated by the project will be utilised by the community, project partners and municipal government.

The Western Australian Government's land and development agency, Landcorp, is taking part in the project to monitor success in order to explore alternative water and energy systems that are connected to smart technology. Landcorp owns the Knutsford site, where the integrated and resilient energy and water systems

Dean Mudford, Chief Operations Officer of Landcorp, said: “We are excited to be part of a shared commitment to explore alternative water and energy systems which are innovative, resource efficient and connected to smart technology.”

Power Ledger will provide the transactional layer for the renewable assets, as well as the ownership model for the community owned battery. Power Ledger has developed blockchain energy applications, such as a P2P energy trading application that allows businesses, such as utilities, to host trading on the Platform. Their technology enables the sale of surplus renewable energy generated at residential and commercial developments (including multi-unit/multi-tenanted) connected to existing electricity distribution networks, or within micro-grids, in a transparent, auditable and automated manner.

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