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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Blockchains for Decentralized Optimization of Energy Resources in Microgrid Networks


We present an architecture for peer-to-peer energy markets which can guarantee that operational constraints are respected and payments are fairly rendered, without relying on a centralized utility or microgrid aggregator. We demonstrate how to address trust, security, and transparency issues by using blockchains and smart contracts, two emerging technologies which can facilitate decentralized coordination between non-trusting agents.  While blockchains are receiving considerable interest as a platform for distributed computation and data management, this is the first work to examine their use to facilitate distributed optimization and control. Using the Alternating Direction Method of Multipliers (ADMM), we pose a decentralized optimal power flow (OPF) model for scheduling a mix of batteries, shapable loads, and deferrable loads on an electricity distribution network. The DERs perform local optimization steps, and a smart contract on the blockchain serves as the ADMM coordinator, allowing the validity and optimality of the solution to be verified. The optimal schedule is securely stored on the blockchain, and payments can be automatically, securely, and trustlessly rendered without requiring a microgrid operator.

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