Many have spoken out about Bitcoin’s carbon footprint. There has been much less about blockchain’s potential to improve the efficiency of renewables through transparently managing demand and supply. Blockchain is not a threat to the earth. It will play an important role in helping to create a net zero carbon economy.
It’s a few years away: After loading the washer, you are now sitting on your couch with a cup of coffee. It’s turned on, but the Internet of Things-enabled device checks prices and will turn on when it reaches a low electricity window. You have the Tesla outside, fully charged. If you need power, the battery can be sold back to the grid or deposited in your energy wallet.
Our society is dependent on electricity and energy in particular. The 2021 Texas freeze, which left more than 4.5million homes and businesses in darkness, causing misery as well as 246 deaths, showed how vulnerable our electricity supply systems are to disruptions.
The first U.S. electricity station, the Pearl Street Station in 1882, began producing power for 85 Manhattan customers using DC current. Thomas Edison’s rival, Westinghouse, created AC power and built a large hydropower plant at Niagara Falls in order to supply electricity to Buffalo. Other developed countries followed suit. This model consisted of a large central power plant that sent high-voltage electricity through a grid to substations, and then distributed it to residential or business customers.
This model has been in use for over a century. However, it does rely on expensive, centralized power stations that are fuelled by natural gas, coal, or nuclear. It is a top-down structure.
We now have a new paradigm. In a transition towards a decarbonized future we have many Distributed Energy Resources (DERs). These could include solar or wind generators. However, they can also include battery storage, hydrogen fuel cell, smart appliances, and electric vehicles. Dominion Energy, a utility company, has invested in a fleet school buses in Fairfax County, Virginia.
They will pick up and drop off children twice a day. They will be sat in the depot, which serves as a huge battery for the local electricity grid. Soon, instead of just a handful of large power stations we will have a complex web of producers, consumers, and sellers. In the past, if a grid needed more power someone would flip a switch to bring another power plant online. In the opposite situation, if there were too many, engineers would shut it down.
In a distributed system, it is more challenging to balance all the inputs and outgoings. This requires AI, data analytics, and some kind of transparent, accessible and trusted accounting system. This is something you might have seen. Spoiler alert: These are tokenomics and blockchain.
To misquote W.B., an Irish poet, the new energy paradigm is a rough animal, waiting to be born. Yeats. We can also look at some pioneers in this field.
Port of Rotterdam – Distro
Rotterdam, Netherlands, is the largest port on the planet. It handles a huge amount of cargo each day. It consumes a lot of electricity. BlockLab.nl joined forces with S&P Global Commodity Insights to create Distro. This AI-based trading platform allows you to trade energy from the microgrid solar power system on the roofs and buildings of the port complex.
According to an internal analysis, it uses high-frequency trading and Blockchain accounting to reduce user costs by 11%, increase returns by 14%, and lower CO2 emissions. James Rilett (senior director of Innovation at S&P Global Commodity Insights) said that the success of this pilot project has sparked tremendous interest in replicating it elsewhere.
BlockLab is a multidisciplinary innovation lab that uses blockchain technology to create applications that improve the global energy transition, and improve global supply chains. It is supported by the Port of Rotterdam, and works with top universities and technology developers.
Janjoost Jullens was the energy lead at BlockLab and met Rilett at an exhibit. There was an immediate exchange. James Rilett says,
“We already thought about AI, Blockchain, Big Data, and the energy transition. We wanted to bring the best of the evolution of energy markets into a new technological paradigm.
In 2018, the Port of Rotterdam supported the project with a small amount of pizza money. However, it was clear that the project had to be practical and feasible. Distro is a peer to peer energy network that allows consumers and “prosumers” to both create and consume power. The energy trading process is fully automated so that there is very little administration.
Janjoost states that it is a “very innovative and realistic” method. “We combine blockchain, algorithm trading and data engineering to create a business solution that deals with decentralization.
James calls it the “special sauce” that makes sure transactions are fair, transparent, and reconciled. This is an important issue in traditional energy trading.
“The platform has hosted 20 million blockchain-validated, cleared and settled transactions. Because it is beautiful technology that allows transactions to clear in a trusted way, the blockchain lowers the cost of microtransactions management. It’s unique and innovative to the power market.
They are currently working to scale this technology to larger projects. The first is in the Port of Rotterdam Industrial Area, which accounts 35% of all Dutch carbon emissions. The second is in California as a microgrid.
“Shore Power” is another niche application. Docked ships require variable power. Usually, they use diesel generators and cause fine dust pollution. Distro is trying to replace this with renewable energy in order to solve this problem.
Powerledger was announced as the World Summit Awards ( @WSAoffice) winner in the Environment and Green Energy category for our peer to peer energy trading project in Uttar Pradesh.
Read more here: https://t.co/klyrqu0m5B#wsa2021 #UN #wsa2022 #HackTheGap #UNSDGs pic.twitter.com/aPQulKFeGO
— Powerledger (@PowerLedger_io February 7, 2022
The Ledger of Power
Australia’s Powerledger is promoting decentralized markets to maximize renewable energy generation, storage, and purchasing power. It seeks to increase renewable energy use by using advanced trading between microgrids in order to ensure grid stability.
It is crucial to ensure continuity in transmission, distribution, and storage for intermittent renewable energy sources. This will prevent conventional grid failures such as blackouts and brownouts where the grid drops below its operating parameters or causes equipment problems.
It has established nearly a dozen projects in Australia, and other countries. Last year, Powerledger launched the Solana-based token, POWR, on Coinbase and Binance.
Magazine is told by Jemma Green (Powerledger executive chairman, co-founder).
“What often happens is that energy companies sometimes add fossil fuel energy to the mix in order to compensate for the shortages in intermittent renewable energy.
She believes storage, including EV battery technology and advanced market software, can bridge this gap as more renewable energy sources are added to the energy mix.
Powerledger’s uGrid is being used in Thailand for project T77. It allows rooftop solar power to be traded between an international school and apartment complex, shopping center, dental hospital, and shopping center in Bangkok. This software, which is blockchain-based, is the backbone for the peer-to–peer trading system that allows energy distribution within the community. Because the electricity is generated locally, it is more affordable than the grid. It also reduces carbon emissions. The key technology is a blockchain app that trades energy between participants rapidly to get the best price in a microsecond-by-microsecond fluctuating market of supply and demand.
Powerledger has 30 projects underway in 11 countries. This means that these energy technologies are being tested to verify their effectiveness. Green says:
“People are understandably hesitant about any new technology. But blockchain is the building block of a new internet. This is a new era in which you can take the sun’s energy and make it into currency.
These projects have a lot potential in developing countries. Perhaps because smartphone banking apps leapfrogged traditional high-street banks to reach mobile users in Africa or Asia, there is also a lot of potential.
Justin Sun is not involved
Many other projects using sustainable energy and blockchain in Asia are also being implemented. The Sun Exchange’s microleasing marketplace in South Africa, launched in 2015, allows individuals and corporations to invest in off-grid energy development. Tokens can be used to finance projects without having to use conventional capital. Not all projects can.
Blockchain technology can be used to measure, record and verify greenhouse gas emissions. ECO2 Ledger uses Blockchain technology to make carbon credit data more reliable in China’s voluntary carbon market. Individuals can track their carbon emissions using the MyCarbon app, and trade carbon credits with others who require it. It was launched in November 2019 and quickly attracted over 500,000 users. The website claims to have traded 100,000 tons carbon credit.
It is important to trade in Renewable Energy Certificates, which are called in different countries. This method allows electronic documentation and tracking of all aspects of the production, trading, distribution, and consumption (or “renewable energy”) and creates carbon credits that can be used to verify carbon generation. This is a well-regulated and established market in the developed world. It is voluntary in the developing world. This can lead to a variety of problems, including fraud, transparency, and unacceptable transaction costs.
The Energy Web Foundation (Swiss-based) was founded in 2017. It is a non-profit that develops decentralized and publicly available solutions for the energy sector. EWF’s Energy Web Origin is an open-source, fully customizable suite of software tools that can be used to build blockchain platforms for efficient and cost-effective renewable energy sourcing. It conforms with existing regulations and standards.
They also have projects in Thailand and Turkey. Mercados Electricos16, an electricity trading company operating in Mexico and Central America is currently executing a pilot platform for evaluating a business case to evaluate the technical feasibility of a regional blockchain-based carbon credit trading marketplace. It is still a young project that was started in 2019. This has been a challenge. Due to the variety of devices, data acquisition has proved difficult. Another problem has been a lack of knowledge about blockchain. These credits are voluntary so there is a shortage of customers. Good projects will overcome any early problems.
A flare for flares
Natural gas is often lost because it is being burned instead of being used. It can be dangerous and expensive to process and then sell. This is extremely wasteful. Sergii Gerasymovych founded EZ Blockchain in the United States in 2017. It uses this gas. He explained, “We use that energy, transform it into electricity, and mine Bitcoin.” His company’s product, EZ Blockchain, is a mobile data centre that can be placed on a gas site. It also uses surplus gas to generate power. This is quite a clever trick.
“There is a lot more energy than is needed in the power grid. We use excess power from the grid to mine Bitcoin. Our data center is shut down if there is a shortage. It is balancing demand and supply.
The company is in a rut and adding new data centers to its network every day. There are over 60 of them in operation in the U.S., Canada. Some are owned directly by EZ Blockchain and others by energy companies. They are adding around a dozen new users each month, and hooking up their data centers to renewable microgrids.
Sergii states that his company is very focused on encouraging renewable energy.
“Renewable energy like solar or wind requires constant power consumption to make it profitable. With the help of wind turbines, batteries or solar panels, and cryptocurrency mining, we can offer companies who invested in renewable assets a faster return on their investment. The excess energy can be used to power the generator, rather than being shut down by the wind. However, there isn’t enough demand.
“The future looks bright, but there’s still a lot to do. We are now at a stage where we are rapidly expanding. Last week, we hired ten people. The company is growing exponentially.
All the pieces are connected
For energy distribution and transmission, decentralized energy systems are the future. They can be local and low-carbon. Combining that with IoT and AI, machine learning and big data, and much more user control, a decentralized accounting and financial system is required to ensure transparency and accountability. Blockchain is the only technology that can do it.