Published on 1 December 2018 |
by Michael Barnard
1 December 2018 of Michael Barnard
Along with our normal daily coverage for clean technology news, CleanTechnica it also produces in-depth reports on various aspects of clean energy and clean transport. One of the emerging technologies we cover is not directly a clean technological innovation is blockchain, which promises to be a catalyst for innovation in the green economy in the near future. Blockchain is probably best known to the public as "having something to do with cryptocurrency and Bitcoin, right?", Which is partially correct, but the technology itself has a wide range of applications, some of which will be crucial in the fields of distributed renewable energy , network management and energy storage, and smart contracts, among others.
The full report Blockchain: an enabling innovator for clean technology, which was published in July, is a deep immersion in the blockchain and its potential, and we will publish further extracts from the report in the coming weeks. (Read the last episode here.)
The blockchain and related technologies assessed in this second part of this article are:
5. IBM Blockchain (Hyperledger)
[See part one for evaluation criteria.]
5. IBM Blockchain (Hyperledger fabric)
IBM is a leading member of the Hyperledger opensource group and a significant contributor to open source code. In addition, it hosts Hyperledger Fabric on a corporate scale on its IBM Cloud platform, both in public cloud test environments and in highly protected dedicated Hyperledger environments.
And you charge for this. Unlike most other blockchain technologies, this is not the roll-your-own opensource, but a business component, hosted and managed by a global enterprise service provider.
But IBM understands the security that governments and corporations need and understand data sensitivity better than most organizations can do. And he understands it in most countries in the world.
Right now, IBM and its Blockchain are somehow leaders in cleantech space, used by European utilities to demonstrate the management of the electricity grid in Germany and the Netherlands and in the management of carbon markets in China. IBM's Blockchain is also used by just-out-of-stealth Xage to manage the security of industrial IOT endpoints with an initiative initiated by ABB, the big heavy network. Architecture is not entirely clear because initial public information indicates that there are also components of Ethereum in the mix.
Project | White paper
NEO is an emerging platform designed from the ground up for regulatory compliance. This means that it is solving the challenges that regulatory compliance leads to blockchains and cryptocurrencies.
This is one of the main reasons why ProjectICO has moved on it and outside of Ethereum for the first US coin offerings.
The NEO is also very interesting as it probably has the most flexible composition mechanism of any of the current bids. NEO smart contracts can be solved using your own NEO currencies or by connecting to third-party payment solutions. This eliminates many of the challenges of the smart contracted deposit model, allowing for a greater variety of uses. I would say that this is more flexible than the Hyperledger model, which uses only third parties and the Ripple model that absolutely does not make smart contracts.
It also aims to be highly performing, using a test solution of the delegated stake that is very similar to that of Ethereum Casper, at least externally.
The combination makes this a very promising blockchain platform. It is the closest to a Swiss army knife and with Ripple and Hyperledger, based on the corporate and regulatory reality, not on the libertarian fever of an unregulated world.
However, the NEO has three challenges. It is a Chinese national company, which means that it is quite likely that it would not comply with federal procurement policies as part of a solution. If the destination use is federal in the United States or Canada, NEO is not necessary to apply. And of course the basic documentation and the technical team are much better if you read and speak Mandarin, but there are translations and translators of high quality. The second concern is that at the moment it is a very expensive platform for general use with high transaction costs, memory costs and distributed application costs, which is probably reasonable for a corporate regulatory platform but more difficult for startup exploration. . And at the moment the toolkit and the examples are immature and much more difficult to configure and work with respect to competitive offers.
There are no cleantech cases for NEO, but I'm aware of this.
Project | White paper
This is another outlier, as it is not blockchain at all. IOTA focuses on providing a distributed, secure and cryptocurring register for micropayments and data interchange between IOT devices. It has something that calls the tangle, which is a bifurcated tree instead of a chain of blocks.
Ensuring the integrity of the transaction set does not use evidence, game testing or one of the delegation or centralization models, but instead each IOT device validates two other transactions randomly as it adds a transaction to the edge of the tangle . The validating transactions do not have to be upstream of it, so it creates validation pointers between the branches, then the tangle. In addition to this, however, it is a direct acyclic graph, which is a painful way of saying that it is a tree that never comes back on itself.
As a result of the approach, there are no server nodes in the architecture, just a group of peripheral devices that quickly create the tangle. The knots can keep subsets of the tangle for their own purposes. Because the validation mechanisms are coded in the firmware and are limited to validating or creating three transactions, the performance is high and initial tests already see high transaction volumes.
That said, this is definitely a work-in-progress and it is unclear whether it really solves a problem effectively or appropriately. I agree with a point of view of Nick Johnson published in September 2017. He made some questionable choices, which from the outside appear to be the result of previous academic work rather than good architecture.
Johnson points out something that scared me when I saw it separately, that is to say he changed his cryptographic algorithms. This is a fundamental failure of security, so much so that it is a basic precept that you do not. He goes on to underline that he implemented the ternary instead of the binary algorithms to obtain only academic benefits.
Unsurprisingly, I have had at least two major security errors I know of and which are not yet in production. It is not ready for prime time and will not be as long as it continues to rotate its cryptography, in my opinion.
From the point of view of usage, it is important to enable communication between IOT devices, but it is not clear why they need to pay between IOT devices. The use cases I saw written do not include the commercial domains they are talking about, for example the payment of the transit fee. And it is not clear that IOT devices need a distributed ledger to share information. In my eyes it seems to be an overly complex technological solution looking for a problem.
However, Microsoft and others are working with them, so others have confidence, even if I still do not see the value proposition.
Another interesting thing about IOTA is that it is not a distributed application program. There is no real mechanism for this. Among other major challenges, understanding the order of transactions that is tantamount to the order of programmatic instructions is really difficult in the tangle. It is possible to approximate order over time, but it is not inherently present in the solution.
IOTA also behaves strangely with the opensource community, which may challenge it in the future. With the main security problem of last year, at one point he announced that it was intentional so that he could backdoor projects that he did not approve. Once again, a red security flag and a red flag for the opensource community.
No cleantech cases have emerged, but IOT includes many and many cleantech devices from smart meters to wind turbines, so if they find a strong value proposition, they might appear in space.
Project | White paper
Ripple is a high-performance blockchain implementation with its own internal currency, but is specifically targeted at international banking money exchanges.
It is not surprising that fintech is the main objective of a distributed ledger. The Ripple solution is very clean, as it uses the Ripple currency only as an intermediate value between two foreign currencies. This means that the risk of Herstatt is not present due to the speed of entering and leaving Ripple.
It's not even an intelligent contract or a distributed application platform. It is designed to move money between two different currencies as efficiently as possible across geographical boundaries.
It is completely aligned with Sarbanes Oxley II and the principal and their consultants have extensive experience in the financial sector. They know the space and choose a high value target. They are not alone in space, of course. IBM, of course, is in this space and has worked with Stellar.
There are no Ripple-specific cleantech applications, but cleantech is basically a business, which means that it is very likely that a fairly large amount of cleantech money has already passed through Ripple.
Project | White paper
This project is working to build an operating system for blockchain, not just a blockchain itself. They want to move Ethereum as a primary platform for other coins and applications completely.
It is difficult to judge what it will actually achieve from this project, but its goal is a highly effective intelligent contract, strong generalization and good scalability with the other advantages of blockchain.
Ethereum provides the Ethereum virtual machine, but is relatively limited in what it does. EOS wants to recreate its capabilities, but adds a lot of integrated and well-architected support for data structures, roles and responsibilities and the like. At the moment, people who create applications on Ethereum must create it from scratch or add it externally to libraries. This adds complexity and time to the process.
There are a couple of red flags around EOS, of course. One is that it is quite open to being an entity of the Cayman Islands. The company is not interested in respecting tax laws or global regulation. The company promised to use the money raised to build the infrastructure that defined and release the source code to opensource when it is "done", but this is not a traditional opensource or closed source project. And it does not do anything to keep all the money it raises and use them for whatever they want. It is not creating and funding a foundation to persist EOS as did most of the other examples.
EOS barely exists at the moment, so there are still no cleantech use cases. But if it reaches its promise, it could become an important blockchain operating system that accelerates innovation in this space.
Project | White paper
This item is interesting for many reasons. The first is that one of its founders has a long history in cryptocurrency as the founder of Monte. Exchange of Gox, then Ripple, before founding Stellar.
The second is that it is an open source, public version, allowed by Ripple from a functional perspective. The aim is to collect the unbanked – a standard concern in the cryptocurrency space – and to allow mobile microtransactions, especially in the third world.
That said, his valuation in April 2018 was over $ 4 billion, and IBM and Stellar announced a partnership in October 2017 for the Asia Pacific foreign exchange in competition with Ripple.
Stellar is very fast and very cheap to execute transactions and manage smart contracts as a matter of design, but this speed derives in part from a complete contractual language, not limited and not limited. It is still a suitable platform for new applications of various types, but many of the features must be outsourced to other components, be it different blockchain technologies or non-blockchain technologies. Because any blockchain technology is only a component of an architecture, it simply means that responsibilities are assigned differently.
It is a mature blockchain solution, but at the moment there are no specific solutions for cleantech.
Project | White paper
Blockchain and cryptocurrency for cleantech are a rapidly evolving space. This is a snapshot of a moment in time. It is safe to say that cleantech will involve blockchain and similar distributed accounting approaches. And it is also safe to say that each of the technologies and approaches represented here has better and worse uses. If someone tells you that the answer is just one of them, you can be pretty sure they are enthusiastic, not architects.
Stay tuned for more excerpts from Blockchain: an enabling innovator for clean technologyor view the summary and request a complete report at https://products.cleantechnica.com/reports/