Blockchain, often referred to as distributed ledger technology (DLT), received significant attention from the power sector due to its financial applications. Energy market researchers explore mechanisms to leverage the technology’s capabilities to enforce secure transactions with non-repudiation, while maintaining the confidentiality of the users and the integrity of all transactions. However, much of the existing research tends to focus on building proof-of-concept applications rather than identifying the fundamental features of the DLTs that bring true value to the transactive energy system (TES) applications. Such approaches lead to making unrealistic assumptions about the technology and even forcing the technology’s adaption towards impractical use-cases (e.g., cryptocurrency-based TES applications or the use of energy-intensive consensus processes). To thwart some of the unrealistic assumptions, PNNL takes a multi-faceted approach where a coalition of computer scientists, power systems researchers, and cybersecurity experts explore the true value proposition of DLTs to TES. The objective of this research is to develop artifacts that can help researchers and practitioners follow a methodical and engineering-based approach toward use of blockchain for relevant TES applications. This research is performed in a DLT agnostic fashion. Therefore, the research artifacts are applicable for any TES application that intends to use blockchain or any other DLT.
The research approach is as follows:
- Develop a thorough methodology that can be utilized to map the engineering requirements of a TES application to DLT based on its available features and constraints. Researchers can use this methodology to:
a. Determine if DLT is a feasible solution to the target TES application
b. Identify the specific DLT features that could fulfill the TES application requirements
- Create templates that can be used to design deployable smart contracts for any DLT-based TES application. The research team identified the engineering blocks of the TES, followed by the development of the information models and data models with blockchain as a TES-enabling technology to achieve this.
- Exploring the potential value proposition of blockchains to assist with fault tolerant grid operations.
Furthermore, the PNNL research team has been engaging with IEEE P2418.5 Standard for Blockchain in Energy to ensure that the research process and outcomes are coordinated with real-world needs and emerging technology standards. The research team welcomes external subject matter experts as project advisors.