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Silicon Valley Power to pilot blockchain for solar-powered EV charging

Silicon Valley Power, the municipal utility that serves Santa Clara, is partnering with a pair of energy-focused blockchain startups to explore the use of the distributed ledger technology to track and manage solar-powered electric vehicle charging and to earn credits under the California Air Resources Board's Low-Carbon Fuel Standard, or LCFS, the companies announced.

"We see this project as a stepping stone, a proof of concept for the larger [renewable energy credit] and carbon market," Rick Kubin, vice president of Clean Energy Blockchain Network, one of the startups, said in a June 20 interview. "People often ask, 'What is the value of blockchain?' Being able to demonstrate that value is critical."

Kubin and his team will provide local technical assistance for the application of a blockchain platform developed by Australia's Power Ledger Pty Ltd that will track electric-vehicle charging at a six-story parking garage in Santa Clara, Calif., featuring 49 charging stations, lithium-ion battery storage and a rooftop solar array. Located directly across the street from Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers NFL team, the parking garage was touted as "the largest public electric vehicle charging center in California" when it opened in 2016.

Currently in the design phase, the project aims to streamline transactions and provide the chain-of-custody verification for LCFS credits, Kubin said. Owners of public EV charging stations and fleets of EVs, among others, can participate in the LCFS program by generating credits and selling them to producers of carbon-intensive fuels, who are required to obtain credits in order to meet carbon-reduction goals specified by the state.

"We're looking forward to using the Power Ledger platform to enable the tracking of carbon-free electricity from source to customer electric vehicles," Silicon Valley Power Chief Electric Utility Officer John Roukema said in a news release. "This will provide a clear audit trail in support of proposed changes to the Low-Carbon Fuel Standard program that will allow for incremental credits while automating the entire process."