Powering into the finals

PERTH-based company Power Ledger is one of three finalists in this year’s Extreme Tech Challenge, and they’re off to Richard Branson’s Necker Island for the final round.

The tech startup uses blockchain and a virtual currency that can be used as tokens for people with renewable energy generators, like solar panels, to trade excess power.

The blockchain is the same technology used by Bitcoin (where the data is distributed between users and not held on one central database), but with a practical real-world use of trading energy units already built in.

Currently, solar panel owners can put their excess energy back into the grid, where it’s sent back to the power company then resold to other users, but payments can be subject to the vagaries of government or the power company.

• Power Ledger chair Jemma Green with board adviser Bill Tai. Photo supplied

This peer-to-peer system would remove the middle man and let owners trade directly with consumers who might not be able to have renewable energy, like people in apartments or those in areas without a lot of sun.

Co-founder Jemma Green, a Curtin uni sustainability researcher, former investment banker and also a Perth councillor, says “getting the chance to present our peer-to-peer renewable energy trading platform at the Consumer Electronics Show 2018 was a fantastic opportunity to get our message out to even more markets around the globe.

“We know that our solution is one that can truly make a difference in humanity, in both developing and developed nations.”

The finals are at Richard Branson’s privately owned Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands at the end of February.

Power Ledger was the only Australian company in the top 10.

The other two tech companies in the top three were Revl, a smart action camera that uses artificial intelligence-powered editing, and Owlet, an infant health data collector.

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