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IKEA Looks to Blockchain for 'Democratic' Clean Energy

12 Mar 17:00 by Steve Walia

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IKEA, the furniture giant, is looking to create a solar microgrid powered by the blockchain. The innovation is being taken forward by the company's own lab, Space 10.

Called SolarVille, the concept is currently being modelled and will begin with a prototype wooden village designed to demonstrate the microgrid concept. The blockchain-enabled system would allow communities and individuals to sell on extra unused energy to others, using the digital ledger to record and make payments.

Every building in the prototype village has been linked together with wiring in order to create a self-sustaining microgrid that will allow energy sharing. IKEA's lab engineers say that the concept would be wholly scalable.

With the design in practice, people could produce extra energy by adding more solar panels or by using less in their own home. The blockchain ledger would then allow them to earn income by selling the extra on to buyers locally without the need for third parties.

The nature of blockchain means that all transactions would be transparently and securely recorded.

The model is wholly interactive and will allow viewers to see exactly how the energy flows through the network thanks to a series of embedded LED lights that work in real time to show fictional energy trades. A side-viewing hatch shows the blockchain's digital technology in action, demonstrating how the input of the sun's energy transforms into a local clean energy market.

Space10 has also released a paper that details the application of solar PV as a key means of building a low-carbon economy, with 900,000 Twh of solar power available across the world, compared to 900 Twh from wind. 

IKEA has high goals for sustainability and is aiming to slash greenhouse gas emissions from its business by a whopping 80pc by 2030.