Blockchain is revolutionizing the electricity business

posted about 6 years ago
Bitcoin technology is starting to seep into the electricity business, shaking up the way payments are managed every time a light switch is flipped.

Utilities are shifting away from a century-old arrangement where they monopolized both supply and distribution. Now, independent wind- and solar-farms are feeding into power grids in short, sometimes unpredictable intervals that require transaction systems to be more nimble and decentralized. Utilities including RWE AG in Germany and Fortum OYJ in Finland are looking to blockchain technologies to do just that.

Lawrence Orsini, the founder of New York-based blockchain developer LO3 Energy, said his company has been approached by 26 utilities to consult on how they could modify the way they make transactions. In addition to coping with increased volumes of renewable power, utilities want to track the use of new products from rooftop solar panels to electric-car charging.

In Germany, RWE has been testing blockchain for electric-vehicle charging and on a platform where consumers can trade green energy independently of utilities.

The Vienna-based startup Grid Singularity is working on a decentralized digital platform allowing people buy and sell energy. It expects to test its blockchain with power plants by year end.

Some utilities are already preparing blockchain trials. Vattenfall plans to test it on its Powerpeers online platform, a website that lets customers buy and sell electricity without going through the utility.

Fortum is also planning a pilot in the next year that may allow tests in so-called connected homes, where consumers manage appliances through internet connections.
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