Imagine a situation where you can switch from one utility company to another within a few minutes. The world where utility bills don’t pile up every month. The world where you can buy and sell your energy within the comfort of your home. This is the world where Blockchain is incorporated in renewable energy.
Players in the energy sector are beginning to run away from the traditional market that is packed full with intermediaries. They are replacing it with a new, unique technology that eliminates all these intermediaries replacing them with smart blocks
The potential of renewable energy like solar are undeniable, and experts say these new boys on the block may point us in the right direction as they change the energy market.
The role blockchain is playing in the evolution of the energy sector is still a surprise to many. Most people recognize blockchain as no more than the technology behind the popular cryptocurrency bitcoin. Blockchain technology works by keeping proof of every transaction on the p2p network. It is a ledger made up of blocks with the sole function of recording all ongoing transactions.
According to the BBC, Google said “it wants to map ‘the planet’s solar potential’ – the data from these panels, including their uptake, could inform future energy strategies.”
As the transaction takes place, a block is added to the permanent database. This ledger contains a record of every single transaction since the time of its inception.
What’s more? The system is decentralized in structure. What this means is that no individual can claim ownership over it. Each peer gets a copy of the blockchain once they connect to the network. They are granted access and permitted to inspect or add to the available data. However, they cannot delete from the block.
How Is Blockchain Technology Influencing the Renewable Energy Sector?
Not many people are aware of the potential to incorporate renewable energy into the existing electric grid in a clean yet simple way that will indeed be beneficial to energy consumers and producers. Startups are at the forefront of various projects with the aim of changing the world with a merger between renewable energy and blockchain technology.
Some of the ways blockchain is being integrated into the energy sector include:
1. The Invention of Smart Solar Grids
As renewables are being activated and incorporated into the working grid, they create an unexpected situation for operators.
Nothing can be more undesirable than the excess power problem that occurs when a lot of renewables are being integrated into the grid system as they come online. This situation is common with the traditional grid system. Grid engineers are left with a new problem: how to control this new source of energy and prevent this excess and poor flow of power.
To overcome this issue, GE, a company assisting in the creation of a unique community in Carros, located in the south of France came up with the term ”Prosumers”. This term is used to refer to consumers who create and use energy in the cleanest way possible. The residents of Carros are among the first in the world to experience this change.
Fundamentally, each house in this city is designed to be its own little power plant because residents produce their own energy, and have the option to either use, store or even sell it. This action helps in maintaining the flow of electricity.
A smart solar grid is an experiment on a massive scale that seeks to integrate renewables into the grid, and Carros is home to the first fully functional smart grid in the world. French grid operator Enedis, partnered with GE to set up solar panels on commercial and residential rooftops, to install demand response technologies and to produce battery storage across the grid. It was all made possible with GE’s Distributed Energy Resource Management (DERM) software. DERM balances consumption of data with weather forecasts from the grid.
“The smart grid can give us cleaner air, better health, lower electricity bills, and reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the atmosphere.” – Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC),
This move is transforming the town into a network of microgrids where prosumers can readily buy and sell electricity from one another based on their needs. The rotation occurs in such a way that homeowners who are absent during the day can sell power to businesses that consume more during the day. In return, they can purchase electricity from electric vehicles, local batteries, or from companies that are price compliant.
Similar advancement is being promoted in Australia. A trial program which started in the region of Perth and is controlled by the company, Energy Startup Power Ledger, allows people to use blockchain to trade energy with each other. The underlying factor to making this new economy work is software. Tools such as DERM will ensure that these transactions are successful while keeping tabs on energy flow and making sure they do not exceed cable capacity.
2. The Promotion of SolarCoins
The relatively new eco-aware cryptocurrency is out to create new moves in the power generation via solar. Interested individuals can mine coins without restrictions. SolarCoins do not keep an ounce of the energy produced; it simply gives out coins as motivation for the production of clean energy.
It was set up in the year 2014 and it uses Bitcoin technology with the goal of generating 97,500 terawatt hours’ worth of solar energy for the following four decades. One SolarCoin is given to the producer for any 1 MWh of electricity efficiently produced. However, the transaction must be confirmed by another person for the to be verified.
Affiliated to SolarCoin is ElectricChain, which is also involved in several solar and blockchain centric projects. This technology was invented in a bid to foster several commercial and scientific purposes. The idea is to spearhead the creation of the world’s biggest technological monitoring device by utilizing the blockchain technology. The integration of solar panel backers into the SolarCoin and ElectricChain is foremost on the agenda at the moment.
The move towards integrating blockchain in the use of renewable resources will not slow down anytime soon. Blockchain technology has changed the game in the energy sector for good. It is no wonder; several sectors are beginning to embrace this unexplored technology.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
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