The utility world has always been an ideal target for the use of blockchain technology and this is even more true for the energy sector where there are unique subjects and cases, such as micro-producers, “prosumers” (producers and consumers at the same time), smart grids and a series of incentives linked to renewable sources.
The recent agreement signed between the Italian company Alperia SpA and the Australian Power Ledger (POWR) team, which will allow the leading blockchain project in the energy sector to offer its services to the current 280,000 users of the utility company in Trentino, offers the opportunity for an in-depth study.
The measurement of energy flows is the main focus of this market segment: energy production, distribution between producers and large electricity companies, on-site exchange (when a micro-producer uses their own energy and gives access to the network operator), users buying/selling electricity, storage in power stations, are all activities that need to record a large number of transactions and guarantee their certainty.
Second-generation smart counters, which are now spreading rapidly throughout the world, make it possible to acquire flow data and send it wirelessly to distributed ledgers, which in turn can be centralized (private blockchains), decentralized (public blockchains) or partially decentralized (private “sidechains” with periodic data transmission on the public blockchain).
But the real challenge is not only to record energy flows in an immutable and incorruptible way: the higher level is to allow the direct sale of energy between producers and users, building a decentralized marketplace where intermediaries and the costs related to their involvement are eliminated.
In addition to the aforementioned Power Ledger, other interesting and growing projects such as WePower, SunContract and Restart Energy are focusing on this aspect, each with their own system and vision, but with the common intention of achieving an energy market without intermediation costs.
The future could also bring us a greater distribution of local smart grids, where small groups of people share production sources and consumption needs, forming an independent nucleus that connects to large electricity distributors, to sell or buy according to the surplus or deficit of the moment: at the moment in Italy there is the initiative of the Sardinian municipality of Benetutti (SS).