The energy industry seems to take blockchain over Bitcoin


S could become the month in which the blockchain will go from being associated with the Bitcoin mines – and potential higher energy costs – to enter the mainstream of how the energy industry does business.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources raised the issue at an audition in August. Since then, there has been a new collaboration, conference or webinar announced almost daily focused on the possibilities that the blockchain could entail for the energy sector.

"Utilities consider blockchain a way to increase both consumer engagement and network efficiency through secure energy transaction platforms," ​​said Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, president of commission for energy.

He noted that Puerto Rico is examining the blockchain to help it manage the island's new, more resilient power grid, which was developed to restore power to the island after the devastating hurricanes of the island. last year.

Even the United Nations is studying technology to inform its fourth annual assembly on the environment next year, which will focus on innovation.

The CEO of SmartMinds, Mark Copeland, discussed the prospects for the blockchain last week at the Forum on Earth's Innovation in Estonia. The forum is the planning session for the biggest U.N. energy meeting. in Nairobi, next March.

L & # 39; U.N. wants to know the implications of technology to combat climate change. The senators wanted to know what are the risks and potential benefits associated with them when it comes to protecting the network from cyber attacks.

So, what's the blockchain? Basically, it is a decentralized way of storing and verifying data without too many human hands interfering. At least this is the idea.

The "block" refers to a block of data, which is placed in a chain that can be stored locally or across the world on a server or hard drive. It is commonly referred to as a digital ledger.

The ability to maintain data in blocks across multiple servers around the world means that data is decentralized, which can give more flexibility to a company when it comes to managing renewable energy projects or verifying global emissions.

But the main advantage of blockchain is its role in data verification and a way to build trust in a system where many transactions are in progress.

Technology is commonly associated with cryptocurrency and bitcoin mining, but has recently captured the imagination of a wider variety of interests, including more conventional sectors, such as utilities and major oil companies.

This week in San Francisco, on the sidelines of the Gov World Summit. Jerry Brown, utilities and major oil companies will gather in the bay to discuss blockchain.

The GTM Blockchain in the Energy Forum held on September 11 will include Tesla, the oil giant Shell and Total, the great California PG & E utility, the Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc., GE and many others.

"The momentum around the blockchain in the energy sector is increasing in step with the growing demonstration of successfully implemented concepts all over the world," says the forum on its website. GTM, or Greentech Media, is a company that provides analysis and news on the clean energy market. It is owned by the global energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

Both power companies and the oil industry are evaluating the potential for blockchain to help them manage customers and meet federal policy objectives, such as methane emission reductions, industry advisers say.

Experts say that technology interest began with utilities that received requests from customers who had increased the power demand for large servers and information technology farms needed to generate Bitcoin's cryptocurrency using blockchain, known as bitcoin mining.

That initial reaction was one of fear in pointing out the local power grid due to the overwhelming demand for electricity from the Bitcoin company.

"We had a client, a public power entity, who was very concerned about the volume of requests he was getting from the power to get bitcoin mining in his service territory," said Lisa Frantzis, senior vice president at Advanced Energy Economy. , a business group that works to make energy cleaner and cheaper.

"Frankly, I think they did not have the burden to handle all requests from foreign entities and people from the United States," he continued. "So, we started to evaluate how much this technology is real, what is the potential impact on the utility sector?"

The utility wanted to understand if it made sense to invest in building the infrastructure needed to meet the demand of energy from the bitcoin mines, he said.

Later, the conversation turned into something completely different.

"And it is clear that there is a lot of discussion about the energy blockchain – not just from the mining side, but also what are the potential applications in the energy sector," Frantzis explained. "It can be used to facilitate many of these customer-centric advanced energy technologies, what are the implications for the public services sector?"

Blockchain, both for mining and other activities, is essentially managing a transaction that can be decentralized and distributed. Likewise, the public services sector is becoming more extensive and decentralized as renewable energy sources, such as solar panels on the roof, become a greater resource. The similarities between the utility of the future and the blockchain technology could be compatible.

The companies represented by the Frantzis group see the potential in the use of the new blockchain technology to manage everything from solar arrays to electric vehicle charging stations. Energy efficiency programs that reduce the consumption of electricity when the network is stressed and even the storage of large-scale electric grills would benefit, he says.

The Advanced Energy Economy has joined forces with the Energy Blockchain Consortium to form a partnership to begin advising local governments, state authorities, businesses and others on where opportunities for managing the 39; energy using blockchain.

Frantzis will focus on the political side, while the Energy Block Consortium will focus more on the technological side of the equation. The collaborative will host its first call during the last week of September.

The Energy Block consortium will host a conference in November to discuss the progress of collaboration.

But these are the early days for any industry that looks at the blockchain, Frantzis said.

"I think everyone is talking about energy blockchain applications, and we know in some ways how it could help, but we do not know if there are, in fact, regulatory and political problems," he said.

"I still do not know what the priority will be, the regulatory issues, but that's what we hope to find out," he explained.

One thing is certain: if the energy industry will not begin to explore how policies and the regulatory landscape should be for the adoption of new technologies such as blockchain, there is a good chance that industry falls behind, said Frantzis.

This is particularly worrying when considering that blockchain could have real benefits for industry.

"It is very clear to me that in some of the discussions we are discussing on this subject, there is so much progress that has happened with the technologies, and it is the regulatory framework that hinders the deployment of some of these technologies," called Frantzis.

"The whole structure of the business model must change to encourage the adoption of these new technologies," he said, explaining that "technology is here, but the regulatory framework is not."

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