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IoT and the smart grid: will blockchain modernise the infrastructure?

Posted by: Lauren Cox 20 Apr 17  | Energy |  Technology

Technological innovation is seriously disrupting the energy space for the better. No longer is blockchain isolated within the computing sector, having been identified as a credible player in modernising the smart grid, once and for all. 

You may be confused as to what this transaction platform has to do with the energy infrastructure. Initially, we were too. Whilst the digitalisation of the grid may not be fully developed yet, thanks to IoT, the possibilities are quite literally endless! 

What’s happened so far?

Most recently, industry heavyweight Siemens have teamed up with LO3 Energy to test energy blockchain on Brooklyn’s microgrid. Why? According to Michael Carson, President of Siemens Digital Grid U.S., energy blockchain screams opportunity. A vision of the future, it brings the potential for real energy efficiencies. The utilisation of blockchain could allow the households to really become a part of the energy world, acting as a platform for transactions in real time.

Not only this, but blockchain will help to build the local economy, providing a sustainable future; neighbours have been testing the blockchain technology in Brooklyn by selling solar energy to each other.  

This innovative technology could facilitate complete decentralisation of the energy grid and demand-side response would be the beneficiary, but what about utilities?

There is a growing concern – energy blockchain is a new way of doing business and the innovation has undoubtedly stirred the pot in the energy industry. However, Carson believes that most utilities are embracing the adoption of IoT. He states, “for the industry, it’s a positive. It’s going to open up another level of opportunity for efficiency and extension that doesn’t exist today.” 

Imagine a grid that supplies power plants with distributed energy… 

It isn’t just Siemens that have jumped on the blockchain bandwagon. Wien Energie is also working on an energy blockchain program in an attempt to commercialise the technology and Oxygen Initiative are using the technology to sync electric vehicles with utility needs. This can be done by not charging vehicles during peak hours, or even absorbing renewable power into the grid when demand is high.

Just when you thought the competition couldn’t possibly get more heated, blockchain energy startup Electron is currently building a demand-side response system, following the appointment of former Npower CEO, Paul Massara. Energyst magazine have described it as a platform offering the “flexibility to be traded collaboratively without handing the levers of power to any single entity, i.e, National Grid.” 

Ultimately, more and more companies are utilising blockchain technology as a means of solving complex problems that have arisen with the infrastructure. In doing so, they’re providing greater flexibility, as well as a more competitive market within the utilities space.

 The energy market is adapting at speed. With IoT gaining traction and major players keeping ahead of the trends, the future of the sector is looking bright!

Do you think that IoT will have a positive impact on the utilities sector?


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