IKEA’s SPACE10 smart town project links solar power by blockchain

Written by Mark Evans
12/03/2019

IKEA’s SolarVille project has used a model town to evaluate how solar energy systems linked by microgrids and blockchain can open new opportunities, potentially allowing people to ‘leapfrog’ the traditional electricity grid.

Created within IKEAS’s Space10 facility, the Solarville scheme is one of the company’s ‘Playful Research’ projects that aim to ‘democratise’ access to clean energy.

The working prototype is a miniature neighbourhood completely powered by solar energy. Built to a 1:50 scale, some households generate their own renewable energy using solar panels, and excess energy can be directly ‘sold’ to other homes automatically in the community using blockchain to ensure the transactions are secure, fast and fair.

The distributed ledger technology is being supplied by BLOC and Blocktech and will manage the energy flow, verify transactions, and share energy through a microgrid. Blockchain allows the technology to create ‘smart contracts’ within the microgrid which self-execute when certain conditions are met.

According to IKEA around 1.1bn people around the world still have little or no access to electricity, and making centralised energy networks is capital intensive – and often cost prohibitive. SolarVille could demonstrate that by combining technologies such as solar panels, micro-grids and blockchain there can be alternatives to traditional grid electricity.

A report, A Brighter Tomorrow, published alongside the project makes the case for solar power becoming the viable, sustainable source of energy.