Blockchain’s Application to the Clean Energy Sector
Although blockchain was originally created to support the trading of Bitcoin Cryptocurrency in 2008, its reach has expanded significantly, with many even hailing it as “the future of the internet.” This revolutionary technology has been employed by numerous industries across the world, and proven to be a notable application to the clean energy sector.
By now you have probably heard that Power2Peer’s platform is “blockchain-secured,” but you might still be wondering what this descriptor actually means. Fundamentally, blockchain is a shared, encrypted, distributed ledger that supports transparent and secure peer-to-peer transactions without the need for third party verification. The blockchain consists of a linked list — a chain of transactions from initiation to completion — that is synchronized to achieve data protection. The network registers all recorded transactions, using sophisticated algorithms to ensure the validity of every link in the chain. The most significant benefits of blockchain technology are transparency, immutability, traceability, security, and efficiency.
A 2019 study from the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews journal presents one of the first systematic reviews of blockchains in the energy sector. After analyzing over 140 blockchain innovation projects and research initiatives in the energy space, they found that approximately one in three use cases relied on decentralized energy trading, which included wholesale, retail, and P2P energy trading initiatives (see Figure 1).
In terms of specific underlying blockchain architecture, they found that 50% of the cases utilized Ethereum (see Figure 2).
Overall, the review found that blockchain technology has the potential to provide important benefits and innovative solutions to some of the key challenges faced by the energy industry. Specifically, blockchain allows energy projects the ability to decarbonize, decentralize, and digitalize their services, which are three key principles necessary for future success. They also elucidated a particularly promising use case: that of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. The authors wrote, “Advantages of decentralization in this case include: elimination of the need of a centrally managed EV charging infrastructure, fault tolerance, as well as elimination of price-setting and collusion between charging stations or transport providers… EV owners can gain greater transparency in energy charges and can potentially have greater choice in selecting their energy supply.”
As a blockchain-secured, ethereum-based decentralized energy trading platform designed to support clean EV charging, Power2Peer’s service is quite comparable to the type of projects this study reviewed. Thus, the bright prospects of blockchain’s application to the clean energy sector demonstrate Power2Peer’s relevance and value among the many other inspiring companies innovating at this intersection.
One particularly remarkable company is Share&Charge. Founded in 2018 and based in Germany, Share&Charge allows peer-to-peer transactions between EV drivers and private EV charging infrastructure owners. They utilize a network that runs on public ethereum and smart contracts. Share&Charge is also offering an economically-viable solution to the climate problem by incentivizing the expansion of EV charging infrastructure. Privately owned charging stations can generate revenue streams by enabling other drivers to charge EVs at their points, which encourages additional station development. The success of their UK and Swiss pilot programs demonstrate the viability of this market.
Power2Peer is introducing a virtual clean power network for EV charging to the United States, so that more people can benefit from this cost-effective and sustainable employment of blockchain’s technology. The main potential issue that the journal review cautioned against was that of scalability, however the architecture of Power2Peer’s platform is already designed to be scalable to support widespread use. As this study — and the success of comparable companies abroad — demonstrate, blockchain’s utilization in the clean energy sector is a worthy application.
Andoni, M., Robu, V., Flynn, D., Abram, S., Geach, D., Jenkins, D., McCallum, P., & Peacock, A. (2019). Blockchain technology in the energy sector: A systematic review of challenges and opportunities. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 100, 143–174. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2018.10.014
Share&Charge. (2021, February 26). Open Charging Network. Share&Charge. https://shareandcharge.com/open-charging-network/.