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Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers in the Energy Sector

ENIAC, the world’s earliest electronic, general-purpose, Turing-complete computer was created almost 75 years ago. Back at that time, it has taken the technological lead in a number of ways being the first digital programmable device in the world. Being called a “Giant Brain” by the press for its phenomenal capability to resolve a wide range of numerical problems, it has turned over the new page of human’s technological progress.

These days we might be on the verge of one more landmark that is able to change the digital landscape drastically – here we are talking about blockchain. If the blueprints, made by blockchain tech in software development industry by now, are measured up, and we are able to unlock the undiscovered potential of Distributed Ledger Technology, blockchain will be heralded a second big-time innovation after the first computer invention.

One of the most prospective areas for the blockchain to assert itself as an epoch-making transformative watershed is the power industry. This assumption was confirmed by Euromoney forecasting that the blockchain will eventually outstrip the banking in the energy sector. In parallel, the MIT Technology Review included the power industry into the range of fields which will be disrupted by DLT. In turn, Ernst & Young have analyzed the background of why the power industry must adopt blockchain as a step forward in the process of digital transformation.

The legacy systems which were deployed to navigate regular grids comprising conventional power plants and centralized energy transmission systems will be insufficient for fulfilling the requirements of the modern power market. Boosting renewable energy along with the growing amount of client-first energy-driven solutions such as smart house systems, electric automobiles, individual renewable energy generating facilities, energy-saving technologies – all these things will require completely new approaches to electric energy transmission, distribution, control, and planning. The key properties of blockchain – decentralized character, outstanding safety, permanence – allow it being the candidate to maintain the fast-moving electricity production and supply systems.

However, not each type of blockchain will be able to manage modern electricity grids since today’s power industry is sophisticated, segmented into a huge amount of sectors markets, it has tough functional parameters for maintaining the system in operating condition. Moreover, the blockchain selected to deal with the comprehensive electricity grids has to process vast volumes of on-the-spot data obtained from multiple sources and to deliver the results to numerous digital devices navigated by the operators and by the customers.

And this is exactly where the Energy Web Foundation and affiliated organizations take to like a duck to water. These days the EWF is developing a novel blockchain-host digital DNA design exclusively for the power industry. More than fifty affiliated companies have associated themselves with EWF in this aspiration. Nowadays they are expanding the scope of activities all over the world by cooperating with energy businesses of different scale – from huge multinational energy giants to practically unheard-of renewable energy startups. The objective is to complete and to upscale the background digital infrastructure based on which the energy industry members – power generation companies, electricity grids operators, customers – can develop and launch their own energy-oriented applications.

For instance, the open-source blockchain, created by Energy Web Foundation, ensures exceptional opportunities of management and Proof-of-Authority consistency which secures:

  1. quicker blocking time
  2. more efficient power usage
  3. bundle of authorized, anchored validators that fix up with a sort of transparency regulators will be required.

At the same time, the options such as confidential transactions allow keeping the valuable information restricted throughout the chain until access to a specific member, for example, a regulator, is granted at a particular time. These days more than thirty enterprises are intensively developing and testing the applications on Tolaba, the test network initiated by the Energy Web Foundation.

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Indeed, the software developers who create applications call the shots in this unrolling situation. In a nutshell, the role of software developers is so crucial that the Energy Web Foundation has enabled EW Connect, a patronized online society for the power blockchain environment. By providing equal market opportunities on the United cooperation spot, EW Connect interconnects the EWF affiliated power businesses with the verified range of blockchain software development startups.

Lots of energy market players have already recognized the benefits that might be delivered by blockchain to their businesses, thus, demonstrating aspiration to deploy this technology and studying the successful cases of energy blockchain implementation, however, usually they are lacking sufficient expertise and resources to integrate similar concept in their own businesses. Therefore, they have to employ experienced blockchain software development teams to do this job. For instance, Elia, Belgian power transmission company, has announced search of a relevant vendor with solid expertise in blockchain which could be able to design and introduce the system to manage the energy supplying and consumption processes.

The Energy Web Foundation feels the urge to involve more vendors and application developers in the collaboration process. At this point, public-based Ethereum was among the most requested playgrounds for blockchain vendors. The blockchain, initiated by EWF, being adapted to the energy sector requirements and completely isolated from conventional public Ethereum, anyhow, operates from Ethereum since in this way it is more approachable to the majority of blockchain development companies. However, still, the problem is in order to be able to work on Ethereum it is necessary to possess expertise in Solidity that restrains lots of startups from participating in the energy blockchain rush.

For this reason, the Energy Web Foundation in cooperation with Parity Technologies made a public announcement on the deployment of WebAssembly for the EW blockchain. Basically, it made the EW blockchain available for any software developer specified in C, C++, Rush and other regular coding languages. This will allow unlocking the entire potential of the worldwide software development society for expansion of distributed ledger technology in the power industry. Therefore, it softens the restrictions on the way to energy industry digital transformation and gives the green light to the innovation flow-in.

The progress of blockchain technology in the electricity generation and transmission industry is the result of teamwork. Any specific individual party, a power plant operator, a transmission company, a software vendor or a custom couldn’t reach even half of what has been already done. However, no doubt, nowadays the software developers are playing a more distinctive role in automatization of the power industry that it was before. Therefore, the inference should be drawn that specifically, the blockchain vendors are capable of shaping the future of the power sector for the benefit of all chain members involved.

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