There is a growing number of Thai companies leveraging distributed ledger technology (DLT) to help homeowners profit from rooftop solar systems. A new generation of blockchain-savvy consumers is muscling the state-owned utilities out of profits by buying and selling surplus solar energy on decentralized peer-to-peer (p2p) energy markets.
来源：THE NEXT WEB
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has demanded the fees be paid as a subsidy for potentially destabilizing effects blockchain technology brings, Nikkei Asian Review reports.
As the markets grow bigger, less electricity is being purchased directly from the state-run utilities, meaning less profits for the traditional power industry.
The bigger task is to redesign power markets to reflect the new need for flexible supply and demand. They should adjust prices more frequently, to reflect the fluctuations of the weather. At times of extreme scarcity, a high fixed price could kick in to prevent blackouts. Markets should reward those willing to use less electricity to balance the grid, just as they reward those who generate more of it. Bills could be structured to be higher or lower depending how strongly a customer wanted guaranteed power all the time—a bit like an insurance policy【28】. In short, policymakers should be clear they have a problem and that the cause is not renewable energy, but the out-of-date system of electricity pricing. Then they should fix it.
There is a $20trn hitch【7】, though. To get from here to there requires huge amounts of investment over the next few decades, to replace old smog-belching【8】 power plants and to upgrade the pylons【9】 and wires that bring electricity to consumers. Normally investors like putting their money into electricity because it offers reliable returns. Yet green energy has a dirty secret. The more it is deployed, the more it lowers the price of power from any source. That makes it hard to manage the transition to a carbon-free future, during which many generating technologies, clean and dirty, need to remain profitable if the lights are to stay on. Unless the market is fixed, subsidies to the industry will only grow.
“The number of household solar rooftop power generators is increasing rapidly. That’s why the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) needs to develop regulation that is fair for everybody,” declared ERC member Viraphol Jirapraditkul.
It was only a year ago that Thailand rolled back strict restrictions on non-government solar power generation. Bangkok Post reported that the Thai government allowed households and businesses to sell surplus energy generated by solar panels back to EGAT last September, but I guess it didn’t count on blockchain being adopted by the p2p energy community so quickly.
The corollary【23】 is that the electricity system is being re-regulated as investment goes chiefly to areas that benefit from public support. Paradoxically, that means the more states support renewables, the more they pay for conventional power plants, too, using “capacity payments” to alleviate intermittency. In effect, politicians rather than markets are once again deciding how to avoid blackouts【24】. They often make mistakes: Germany’s support for cheap, dirty lignite【25】 caused emissions to rise, notwithstanding huge subsidies for renewables. Without a new approach the renewables revolution will stall.
The higher the penetration of renewables, the worse these problems get—especially in saturated markets. In Europe, which was first to feel the effects, utilities have suffered a “lost decade” of falling returns, stranded assets and corporate disruption. Last year, Germany’s two biggest electricity providers, E.ON and RWE, both split in two. In renewable-rich parts of America power providers struggle to find investors for new plants. Places with an abundance of wind, such as China, are curtailing【22】 wind farms to keep coal plants in business.
Policymakers are already seeing this inconvenient truth as a reason to put the brakes on renewable energy. In parts of Europe and China, investment in renewables is slowing as subsidies are cut back【10】. However, the solution is not less wind and solar. It is to rethink how the world prices clean energy in order to make better use of it.
New regulations drafted by Thailand officials demand that electricity producers using blockchain be charged additional fees. Government regulators fear an explosion in independent power generation will lead to a reduction in revenue.
【27】smooth sth (back/down/out) 使平滑，使平整
Here, we are witnessing the decentralization of the energy sector, in Thailand at least. Andreas Antonopolous thinks that this is one of the “most important trends in human history.” Despite the benefits of p2p energy markets, the fact that governments can just impose additional fees to compensate puts a real dampener on things.
Everyone is affected by a third factor: renewable energy has negligible or zero marginal running costs【21】—because the wind and the sun are free. In a market that prefers energy produced at the lowest short-term cost, wind and solar take business from providers that are more expensive to run, such as coal plants, depressing power prices, and hence revenues for all.
The good news is that new technology can help fix the problem (see page 16). Digitalisation, smart meters【26】 and batteries are enabling companies and households to smooth out【27】 their demand—by doing some energy-intensive work at night, for example. This helps to cope with intermittent supply. Small, modular power plants, which are easy to flex up or down, are becoming more popular, as are high-voltage grids that can move excess power around the network more efficiently.
Second, green power is intermittent. The vagaries【18】 of wind and sun—especially in countries without favourable weather—mean that turbines and solar panels generate electricity only part of the time. To keep power flowing, the system relies on conventional power plants, such as coal, gas or nuclear, to kick in【19】 when renewables falter【20】. But because they are idle for long periods, they find it harder to attract private investors. So, to keep the lights on, they require public funds.
本期原著选自The Economist 2017-02-25的小说Clean energy’s dirty secret，释义来自威斯康星Madison分校高阶七版、有道词典等财富。假诺你也在学习The Economist，接待订阅笔者的文集The Economist，一齐学学调换。