Blockchain in Renewable Energy

By Chris Orasanu

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Marco Terruzzin is quite an impressive guy and his talk really hit some of us close to home. Here`s a guy who delivered 200+ projects totaling $3 Bil in value, right in front of us, ready to have his brain picked clean by a room filled with eager entrepreneurs. Marco took us on a journey to understand potential applications of blockchain technology in Energy, but for me, the takeaways of his talk were:

1. The price for Energy is fluid. Not many people might know, as it`s a bit counter intuitive, but not all megawatts cost the same. The price is determined by free trade, so fluctuations in the price are driven by the manufacturer, grid capacity, distance from the manufacturer to the consumers, special events (like a sport event that makes everybody tune in at the same time) and many other factors.

2. Storage: One of the biggest issues making the adoption of green energy less rapid than it could be is Energy Storage. We can`t yet apply Moore`s Law to batteries (although it would certainly be nice) or to Energy Manufacturing. Storage seems the be the next big issue to solve, as green energy manufacturing typically relies on either Wind or Sun (Wind Turbines or PhotoVoltaic panels), both of which, while sustainable, aren`t really that predictable. So if you have the capacity to generate more energy than you consume at times, you should have the capacity to store the execess, in order to use it later on, when your capacity drops (Wind slows down or there`s a cloudy day).

3. Not everything needs a blockchain, Energy however could make good use of it. The way Marco explained it, there`s 3 major stakeholders we should account for: the energy manufacturer, the grid & the market (setting the price & consumption levels). We could also mention the states & governments, who can come in and set different prices, but the entire world seems to be moving into a free trade ecosystem when it comes to energy.

Blockchain could theoretically be used in order to ensure faster payments for the energy manufacturer and to bring in transparency over the process for all of the stakeholders. So in theory, you should be able to generate energy (panels or turbines), pump it back in the grid at specific times (when prices are at their highest due to consumption & demand) and profit.

Blockchain could be a serious application for a new form of energy manufacturer: with more and more people looking into generating their energy off-grid, you could postulate that we can bring all of these small providers online and have them act in unison as a digital provider (sum up all of the outputs from the small manufacturers and there`s potential to become a serious player in the energy market).

Marco`s presentation opens the mind to new paradigms and forces you to reconsider what you know about how energy is “created”, stored and consumed. Once you understand who the key players are, what pains they have, it becomes your responsibility to either have a role in the upcoming change, or to remain an observer, this time, an informed one.