Blockchain transforming the energy sector

Blockchain transforming the energy sector

A new report argues that there are many applications and use cases for blockchain technologies in the energy sector, but warns that it is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

The report was prepared by Energy Cities, the European association of local authorities in energy transition, and consulted several industry figures. Some blockchain applications in the sector are applicable to all industries, says the report, while others are more nuanced.

For an example of the latter, see the section on CO2 emission compensation. “Transforming renewable energy into carbon credits and selling them in the market, or compensating for carbon-intensive activity (such as flying): all this can be done much more convenient and easy to execute and monetize (in real or virtual currency) with the Blockchain technology. “The report notes. “A blockchain application / platform can quickly and automatically convert these activities through an intelligent contract system in a secure and transparent manner.”

In the first category are the processing of transactions, the documentation of ownership of assets and certification. “The documentation capacity of blockchains could change the practices of certification and energy verification, especially when it applies to guarantees of origin and emissions trading systems,” the report explains. “In Europe, the guarantees of origin of renewable energy are often false and fraudulent, in fact, they include fossil energy and allow companies to enjoy green washing.

“Blockchains can verify the source and type of energy at any time in an inviolable way (real-time audit) and create a property registry for each renewable energy certificate.”

Examples of initiatives in the sector include the Pylon Network project   , which is claimed as the first decentralized energy exchange platform, and  Gruenstromjeton  , a service in Germany where customers are encouraged to increase their use of renewable energy with a cryptocurrency. However, there are still many obstacles to overcome before arriving at these utopian visions, be they regulatory, social, ethical or otherwise.

The report points out,  as described in this publication  , how the Internet of Things (IoT) will be aligned with blockchain technologies in the sector. Through the consumption of real-time data, for example, local authorities will be able to obtain continuous reports for all their energy facilities. Last week, at the IoT Tech Expo conference in London,  Thames Water explained  how apathy and anger were among the barriers against the deployment of smart meters for their customers.

For Energy Cities, the problems are more theoretical in nature. There are liability, trust and security risks, as well as complexity problems for smaller clients. Another issue, and one cited by Bob Yelland, European blockchain marketing manager at IBM when this journalist spoke to him at Blockchain Expo last week, was about ubiquity, or lack of it.

Yelland noticed that he had spent much of his time in the program telling prospects that the blockchain was not the answer to everything; so energy also enters. “In principle, it is a relevant option compared to conventional solutions when several players have to enter data in a shared database and when they do not trust each other and when there is no reliable third party or the third party does not inspire enough confidence,” he explains. the report, adding that, although several interviewees admitted that they did not really need to use blockchain for their projects, the experimental value justified the expense.

You can read the full report  here (pdf).


About the author: Mauricio Sevilla