Since its inception, blockchain technology has been expansively used in the financial sector for building cryptocurrencies. Currently, representatives of various fields – including the energy industry – are expressing growing interest in the technology. Foreign companies that seek to optimize their expenses have started to actively use blockchain, which allows avoiding third-party intermediaries for purchase and sale transactions as well as eliminating additional fees.
Singapore-based Electrify Asia aims to decentralize energy trade, which will allow consumers to make their own choice while buying electricity from energy retailers. The company is developing and introducing the Marketplace platform that will provide electric power consumers with additional bonuses, such as for the duration of the system usage or consumption volumes. As of now, only companies can conduct transactions via the platform, but the company’s plans include adapting the project to individuals as well. In 2018, Electrify attracted investments worth $30 mio. Over the past year, the project participants have saved some $554К in electricity bills.
Oil and gas giant BP has invested about $20 mio in blockchain-based projects to increase resource trading efficiency; those include the blockchain platform Vakt, which allows digitalizing such procedures as contract execution or billing.
In 2016, Swedish power company Vattenfall has launched its startup Powerpeers, the Netherlands-based platform for peer-to-peer energy trading. Siemens AG developed the Brooklyn Microgrid platform and now the residents of Brooklyn who have solar panels can sell excess power to their neighbors. A similar startup is being implemented by the Dutch company Oneup.
It is expected that the introduction of smart contracts will be the next important step in the development of blockchain. For instance, if the amount of produced electric power exceeds a certain level, excess energy will be stored using smart contracts and used when needed. This technology is supposed to equalize demand and supply.
As for Russian blockchain projects related to electric energy, we are currently falling behind. In 2014, the Russian president adopted the Energynet road map of the National Technological Initiative. This is the first official long-term program for the development of technology and standards in building a new kind of electric energy system. It is aimed at creating new consumer services and developing distributed energy: micro grids, accumulators, virtual electric power plants and smart contracts. It also includes projects to optimize the collection and processing of data related to the use of electricity with the use of cloud technology.
By Oleg Shevtsov, General Director, Transenerkom