Energy department awards grant to support blockchain-based “energy internet”

Published on August 13, 2019 by Kevin Randolph

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science recently awarded a $1.05 million grant to ComEd, the University of Denver, Virginia Tech and software specialist BEM Controls to create a blockchain-based energy internet to enhance building energy management.

The funding supports the commercialization of a blockchain-based transactive energy platform developed by BEM Controls with funding from the DOE. The software incorporates time-based energy management and control of interior spaces in buildings to improve energy efficiency, reliability, and resiliency. ComEd will use its Grid of the Future Lab to demonstrate the functionality of the system, which will be developed over three years.

“The growing proliferation of distributed energy resources calls for advanced management frameworks that support peer-to-peer communications while being fast, scalable and secure,” Dr. Amin Khodaei, chairman of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Denver, said. “Now is the time to develop and demonstrate the technologies that can make a more sustainable and resilient future possible.”

Interactive energy platforms have the potential to help manage volatility caused by the growth of distributed energy resources. Blockchain is recognized for its ability to ensure security for a broad range of transactions.

“Energy management technology has the potential to make a very positive impact on the environments in which we live and work,” Terry Donnelly, president and chief operating officer (COO) of ComEd, said. “ComEd’s Grid of the Future lab will play an important role in advancing the science in this field and support our efforts to deliver a premier customer experience.”

The Virginia Tech team is led by Prof. Saifur Rahman, founding director of the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute, IEEE fellow and president of the IEEE Power and Energy Society.