Solarville

Platform business models, such as Uber, have demonstrated significant potential to divert profit away from established industries, and in doing so create new winners. For socially minded platforms, one of these winners can be local communities. The platform can be used to decentralise and democratise ownership of communal resources, rather than vesting these in a central supplier. An example of this being pioneered by IKEA is the trading of solar power within a small community using a micro-grid and blockchain. They have developed a prototype (1:50 scale) model village, ‘Solarville’ to illustrate their concept. Power is captured through solar panels, stored in batteries and then traded between community members according to need, with these trades facilitated and verified on a blockchain. The benefit for the community is that the money spent on electricity stays within the community, boosting the local economy. Meanwhile, there is less need for expensive infrastructure to be run from the main grid. There is a strong, immediate application for remote communities in sunny climes. However, with improvements in the efficiency of solar capture and battery storage, there is good cause to think that this could soon be the standard model of energy delivery on UK housing projects.