Week 5: Open Data, Solar Energy in Brooklyn, and Blockchain - A 'FailFare' Midterm Project

Alongside my group members Dorothy Lam and Nouf Aljowaysir, we set out on the challenge to find an open dataset for analysis that could provide an entry point into investigating our chosen topic of climate change.  This article from the Guardian inspired our search.

After looking into NYC Open Data for sets related to water quality complaints, we decided instead to focus on energy production after discovering the datasets on NY State at US Energy.  From here we zoomed in and just focused on the power plant information for the facility closest to where we live - the Brooklyn Navy Yard Cogenerator plant.  

Here's a link to our presentation's slides.


We found a stark drop off in their energy production in 2016 compared to their avg over the 2001-2015, and while we never were fully satisfied with our explanation of this sharp decline, we attribute some amount of it to Con Edison's new offer to let residents elect to receive energy from 3rd part clean energy producers, and to people PV farming their own energy. 



We cross referenced the Navy Yard's production statistics with really interesting articles we began to uncover regarding the growing trend of solar panel installation in NYC and the emergence of an Ethereum blockchain-based energy microgrid in Brooklyn. 

Here are some of those links that really sparked our interest: 

2 Brooklyn Neighbors Just Traded Solar Energy via Ethereum - Bitcoin dot com

New York Just Showed Every Other State How to Do Solar Right - Mother Jones

A Clever Canopy Brings Solar Power to Brooklyn at Long Last - Wired

How Blockchain Helps Brooklyn Dwellers Use Neighbors' Solar Energy - NPR

Is New York Ready for Solar Power? - NY Times


Really interesting to find that in my own neighborhood of Park Slope that the Transactive Grid project had been getting good press and was giving way to the Brooklyn Microgrid project.  Also very uplifting to learn that New York state is trying to be so much on the forefront of clean energy and has created such incentives to home owners and to install panelling.  


Some research reading notes:

(click to enlarge)

It would be a really wonderful if Brooklyn had solar panels on lots of roofs.  And it seems that NYC is on the right path already with the financial incentives.  It's hard to imagine that ConEd will be in favor of it, even if households increased net-metering (selling the energy back to ConEd) instead of selling it P2P.  But as blockchain becomes something that more and more people are familiar with I'm optimistic that these networks of exchange and self-reliance will become more common. Thanks to this project it's definitely an area that I'm interested to pursue now.