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Peer to peer energy and water trading in the Wheatbelt: A sustainable move towards achieving energy and water independence for farm communities

Sivaramakrishnan, Vignesh (2020) Peer to peer energy and water trading in the Wheatbelt: A sustainable move towards achieving energy and water independence for farm communities. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Energy and water systems in the West Australian Wheatbelt require optimization, as they are being delivered through a centralized infrastructure that is unsustainable in the long run and would be prone to impacts from climate change. Furthermore, there are vast complexities in integrating sustainable energy sources currently and their systems due to inherent hardships present in the remote control and management of such energy forms.

This project aims to integrate distributed energy resources (DERs) for the desired application using the key elements mentioned above. Blockchain technology facilitates peer-to-peer (P2P) transmission and trading while having a robust consensus and encryption along with the employability of smart contracts that help non-trusting entities to trade energy using a decentralized platform, using this, a methodology is presented that provides for a pathway towards implementation. It is also shown how P2P energy trading acts as a driver to instate P2P water trading, by drawing parallels between water and energy supply systems in terms of infrastructural needs. The three main parts that energy microgrids are comprised of are generation, storage, and distribution. These can be directly correlated to a function that would be required of water trading networks.

The faltering GAWS (Goldfields Agricultural Water Supply Scheme) is well known and the thesis aims to provide path to install P2P energy and water trading by consolidating resources from existing projects and through analysing literature from the identified key elements around which the project is based; blockchain technology, PV installations and solar pumps with RO, policy instruments that would control the outcome of the project and, energy and water trading. Since an official consensus was not available w.r.t the validity of the GAWS infrastructure in Muresk, GeoVIEW was used to pursue modelling, where in, the man-made water channels have been wilfully interpreted as water distribution networks.

Three scenarios are simulated (single farm + single PVRO; several farms + single PVRO; small town & farms + 4 x PVRO) to show the working in different setup architectures and the most optimal one for the proposed usage is identified. A method to elucidate the setup of smart contracts is also shown. It incorporates the elements together, and equations are formed to design and scale the project for different applications.

The objectives of the thesis are assessed along with the challenges that would be faced that are inherent in applying such concepts. It is empirically shown that this project can significantly outperform legacy networks and help in achieving water and energy independence for the Wheatbelt in the long run. Recommendations are formulated to create the best environment that would be conducive to its application.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Engineering and Energy
United Nations SDGs: Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Supervisor(s): Anda, Martin
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