The market for Blockchain applications in energy sector is many times larger than it is for financial sector.

There’s a new world of energy, and it’s distributed. Recently, a market selling crude oil for Bitcoin has emerged. Also, the rise of solar and wind power inputs from multiple, decentralized sources is breaking the big utilities’ monopoly on energy supply and distribution.

According to Lawrence Orsini, founder of Ethereum dapp developer and energy consultancy LO3 Energy, various utilities have approached his company for advice not just on handling the growing volume of renewable power inputs, but also to track everything from the charging of electric cars to rooftop solar panels.

Machine-to-machine economy

This new world is a Blockchain one, where researchers and utilities are using automated Blockchain technology to replace obsolete legacy systems that depend on human input.

Orsini said in an interview to Bloomberg:

“There’s a change in the business model on the way, and they’re [utilities] trying to figure out how to participate in this new world of distributed energy.”

“The old system of a few big power plants and vertically-integrated utilities didn’t really need blockchain”, says Michael Liebreich, chairman of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

But the new technologies are advancing rapidly, and the future looks different. German electric utility RWE is testing a Blockchain application with electric vehicle charging.

That makes Carsten Stoecker, a self-described blockchain enthusiast at Innovation@RWE, think big:

“Our hypothesis is there will be a machine-to-machine economy in which machines carry out transactions among themselves. Decentralized internet technologies like blockchain will become the transaction layer for this.”

Energy-related Blockchain projects

Vattenfall AB, the largest Nordic utility, struck a bit more cautious attitude. They consider using a Blockchain to handle both internal and external financial transactions “theoretically”. The company, however, intends to trial a blockchain app that permits customers to purchase and sell electricity independently of the utility.

Other companies planning energy-related Blockchain-based products include:

Grid Singularity, based in Vienna, plans to trial its Blockchain-based platform for buying and selling energy with power plants by the end of the year.

Finland’s Fortum aims to enable consumers to control appliances over the internet in connected homes.

The rise of renewable energy inputs is leading to a decentralized power grid and this is opening a real role for the Blockchain in the energy sector, at least in Europe.

By George Donnelly