Quartierstrom is a lighthouse P2P energy community project in the Swiss town of Walenstadt, which has been funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. The basic idea behind Quartierstrom is that locally produced electricity should be locally consumed. To this end, a pilot local electricity market was built, allowing 37 particiapant households, and one retirement home to buy and sell locally produced solar electricity in their own community.
Quartierstrom creates a local peer-to-peer marketplace for locally generated solar power. The marketplace is implemented on a permissioned blockchain governed by all prosumers. The utility participates in the market as the collector of grid usage tariffs and as a fallback-prosumer for any mismatch between market and physical flow of power. A dynamic grid usage tariff is implemented to align pure energy market incentives with grid stability interests. Privacy-by-design concepts are presented which guarantee that the user’s individual load profile is not leaked to any third party albeit using a blockchain. Quartierstrom is the result of a successful colaboration between ‘Exnaton’, a Swiss startup and spinoff of ETH Zurich, and ‘EW Walenstadt’, the local utility company in Walenstadt.
The pilot grid in Walenstadt is operated by Wasser- und Elektrizitätswerke Walenstadt (WEW) in the Canton of Saint-Gall. 27 participants are prosumers with PV plants, 7 of which own battery storage systems. 10 participants are pure consumers. The local utility operates a grid-attached battery storage system and the nearby EV fast-charging station can participate in the market.
The team behind the project designed a dynamic tariff for grid usage depending on A) the used/transversed grid levels (N1, N3, N5, N7) of decentrally produced and consumed units of energy and B) the voltages on N7 where the consumer is located. Such a tariff structure incentivises local balancing, i.e. locally produced energy should be consumed concurrently and as close as possible to its source whenever possible.
The management of actions, like sending out buy or sell orders or updating price preferences based on the acquired data, is handled on each of the end-user’s devices. The Agent module performs the coordination of actions on the end-user’s side of the system. While keeping in sync with the blockchain and its regularly published blocks, this module keeps information about the user’s preferences, such as sell and buy prices, and follows the strategy according to its collected information.
A key task in the Quartierstrom market design was to create an auction in which all participants have the possibility to influence the prices for which they buy or sell electricity. While all participants do not necessarily adapt their prices frequently in the long run, it still presents a unique opportunity to elicit price preferences for local, renewable energy from individuals in a real setting. Thus the Quartierstrom P2P community is on in which individuals can actually influence the true prices they will pay for energy.
Some useful sources for further reading on this project: