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Blockchain - Do We Need More Information?

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Nevelyn Black's picture
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Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

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  • Sep 20, 2019

This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-09 - Blockchain in Utilities, click here for more

Blockchain may still be in early development but the Department of Energy (DOE) is funding research to determine how the technology will be integrated into the power sector.  According to an article on Sustainable Brands News, “We need more information from use cases on the ground and to solve challenges such as high power consumption, limited storage space and time lag, where progress is being made but not resolved.”   

However, in August, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science awarded a $1.05 million grant to four organizations to commercialize a blockchain-based transactive energy platform.  The four utilities included ComEd, the University of Denver, Virginia Tech and software specialist BEM Controls.  They are eager to create an energy internet that they hope will improve energy management, reliability and resiliency. Research doesn’t stop there.  The DOE has several initiatives looking into the use of blockchain.  Several projects will focus on cybersecurity for fossil fuel power generation.  They will investigate best way to incorporate safe blockchain/peer-to-peer technology, demonstrate a secure private blockchain protocol and protect data logging and processing.  Each project aims to safeguard the infrastructure and grid operations.  Why are so many companies looking into the use of blockchain?  It increases transparency and lowers human error.  In some places, the tech will be used to  help businesses meet international standards for clean energy.  Renewable energy certificates (REC) are also growing in popularity.  This week, Thailand’s state-owned energy company, PTT, has partnered with the nonprofit Energy Web Foundation to create a new blockchain-based renewable energy system.  The system will track and improve the sustainability of renewable energy sources through company supply chains.  Jesse Morris, chief commercial officer of the Energy Web Foundation says, “In a fast-approaching future world in which there are billions of connected devices at the edge of the power grid—rooftop solar and battery systems, electric vehicles, smart thermostats—blockchain becomes a powerful enabler to tap into the value these assets can deliver.” 

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Among other things, blockchain systems can decentralized markets for clean energy and empower individual “prosumers” to produce, store and trade their own renewable energy.  There is no doubt that blockchain will change the power sector but it’s too soon to say how much.

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