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Can blockchain and solar ease energy costs for British households?

The transaction saw electricity generated at one property via solar panels sold to residents
solar power panels
The system is based on 'smart hubs', solar power and blockchain

In the same week that UK households were told they’re facing another rise in energy bills, a new technology milestone has signalled progress towards a decentralised market.

Start-up Verv has enabled Britain’s first physical energy trade via a blockchain system, in the Banister House Estate in Hackney.

The transaction saw electricity generated at one property via solar panels sold to residents.

Verv uses artificial intelligence, via what it describes as ‘smart hubs’, to determine energy demand in the buildings and then allocates power to residents. In the first transaction, one kilowatt hour of energy was sent from an array of solar panels on one building, and the excess energy was sent to a resident in a separate building.

It is part of a grant supported Ofgem trial.

Promises to reduce residents' bills

In a statement, the company highlighted that a lot of residents in the estate are on pre-pay meters, which is one of the most expensive ways to buy electricity via the grid, and as such the reduction in the resident’s bills could be even more significant via the Verv system.

“We’re so pleased to be bringing the Verv renewable energy trading platform to life on Hackney’s Banister House Estate, we want to use this technology to empower the residents to innovate and create their own trading community,” said Peter Davies, Verv chief executive.

“We plan to use the results of this trial to roll out more energy trading communities across the UK and in turn globally.”

British Gas sparks latest energy price hikes

On Tuesday, Centrica PLC (LON:CNA) owned utility British Gas announced it will increase the price of its Standard Variable Tariff (SVT) by £60 to £1,161 a year on May 29.

READ: British Gas to increase energy bills for over 4mln customers

The hike, which applies to both electricity and gas, will mean bills for a typical dual fuel domestic customer on the SVT will rise by an average of 5.5% a year. British Gas said the price increase is largely due to rising wholesale gas, electricity and policy costs and will impact 4.1mln SVT customers.

Mark Hodges, chief executive of Centrica Consumer, said the price increase was beyond the firm’s control: “We fully understand that any price increase adds extra pressure on customers’ household bills.”

He added: “We believe Government should level the playing field so the customers of all suppliers pay a fair share of energy policy costs.”

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