The Vlux project and token sale is borne out of an existing business called Verv, who have developed innovative smart metering technology incorporating machine learning analytics. The Vlux platform allows households generating energy to sell excesses peer-to-peer. The Verv Trading Platform (VTP) aims to provide small scale generators with the ability to form optimal strategies for trading excess energy by offering them patented energy metering technology—Verv’s load monitoring (electrical demand) hardware can aims to sample data points millions of times faster than traditional smart meters. These meters inform the platform’s machine learning algorithm, which is expected to, with training, accurately predict how much power a particular appliance will use when and optimize prosumer trading via reliable predictions of energy demand and generation. Between multiple government grants, equity crowdfunding rounds and securing a spot on Google Campus’ launchpad, in addition to further venture funding, Verv has cumulatively raised approximately $6.4 million. In addition to orchestrating a proof of concept oriented at social housing in the U.K. Verv has built strong links with the government. The projects founder, Peter Davies, has previously founded a consultancy firm (with enterprise clients) specialising in automated testing, measurement and control of technical systems.
Vlux intends to improve the array of available energy transactions retail consumers are presented with by removing needless intermediaries. Additionally, Vlux believes its smart meter (The Verv Hub), which can collect highly detailed usage data, will create new trading possibilities by collecting more accurate information on domestic electricity usage than existing products. Verv benefits commercially from already having a core product with units sold, which enabled the company to collect valuable data to train machine learning algorithms. As of October 2019, the Verv smart metering device retails for £249 (approximately 328 USD) and is installed by end users. A distributed network of power prosumers at the edge of an electricity supply network could have several benefits: the network could improve energy supply security, be less carbon intensive, and, depending on how power is routed amongst peers, may present efficiency gains compared to networks where long distances between producers and suppliers contribute to energy loss. Mapping and predicting this usage may also produce gains in appliance fault prediction.
Developers train Vlux’s machine learning algorithms using several data sources. Improved smart meters collect detailed appliance specific energy consumption data, as well as data on microgeneration activities, including energy storage. The VTP will automatically perform transactions for users, such that consumers need not consciously interact with VLUX tokens. Consumer devices will agree to trade in fiat currency, although transaction execution requires VLUX tokens. A more fluid peer-to-peer energy market could incentivise entrepreneurial prosumers to provide local energy services, adopt new energy technology, or support research and development efforts. A use case demonstrating the opportunities Vlux hope to enable might involve those with significant battery capacity living in areas where electricity costs vary depending on overall grid usage (and usually time). Such users could charge their batteries at times of low network demand, before later selling it to their peers at times of peak demand.
The Vlux ecosystem features an ERC-20 token called VLUX, which allows holders to trade energy on the Vlux platform, and all energy transactions on the VTP will require VLUX. A network of ‘local aggregators’ will essentially provide a brokerage function between deliberately local communities, to reduce costs associated with transmission of energy across long distances, facilitating trading of energy. For the privilege, local aggregators will be required to stake VLUX. Initially, transactions will be confirmed on the public Ethereum mainchain, though these may later be migrated to a permissioned Ethereum network. Of the total fixed supply of Vlux, 70% was available for purchase in the public token sale, 20% was retained by the team to reward original contributors and provide a reserve for future growth, and 10% was distributed amongst the first 200,000 Verv Hub owners. The staking mechanism locks up tokens—as the network grows and the number of transactions conducted on the network increases, the overall circulating supply of VLUX should decrease as a result.