The need to do more to preserve our environment is universally acknowledged. The reality of climate change is now almost universally accepted, as is the irreversible loss of biodiversity. Many areas are being explored to address multiple issues. Some of us are even reconsidering our whole lifestyles. Still, perhaps the lowest hanging fruit is within the agriculture and transport industries.
These two industries rely heavily on energy. So if we can improve and optimise its use, we’ll make real progress in turning the tide towards lower carbon emissions.
Blockchain technology holds many promises to build more sustainable economies. In this blog, we’ll focus on how DLT will make positive impacts on the energy markets.
Let us first deal with a common objection to blockchain in the energy domain. Indeed at 70 TWh per year, Bitcoin’s energy consumption currently sits just above that of the country of Columbia. Bitcoin runs on a blockchain technology that uses a proof-of-work algorithm which is the leading cause for its high energy consumption. Transactions are validated by “mining” computers that race to solve complex mathematical puzzles to add new entries to the blockchain. The winner of the competition receives a new Bitcoin as a reward. But there are many other algorithms used by other blockchains that do not use such energy-intensive algorithms. The proof-of-stake protocol used by the DASH blockchain, for example, and proposed for future iterations of Ethereum, requires less than 1% of the energy consumption needed for Proof-of-Work. There are also many initiatives underway to reduce Bitcoin’s energy consumption.
At RIDDLE&CODE we’re excited that blockchain development will significantly contribute to lowering energy consumption & carbon footprints. Here are several areas that we are working on with customers.
I. OPTIMISING ELECTRICITY GRIDS WITH ELECTRIC VEHICLES
A critical use case that electric vehicle (EV) proponents use concerns energy grid optimisation. Indeed, a fully charged EV can give back some unused energy at peak consumption, if it is, say, fully charged and parked in a garage. A prerequisite for such a scenario to work is for users to trust that they are securely identified and to be guaranteed that any financial settlements will occur. Vehicles are, by definition, mobile so a solution must be embedded in the vehicle itself, offer blockchain-grade security and the ability to transact. Those are the key features of the hardware wallet we have developed with T-Labs and Daimler.
II. ENABLING A PROSUMER MARKET AND CREATING ENERGY COMMUNITIES
When ordinary consumers generate electricity, they become power producers, sometimes called prosumers. Whether through their dedication or by regulatory and fiscal motivation, prosumers will tend toward renewable and local sources. This localisation of production reduces the significant power loss that occurs when transporting energy over long distances. Energy provenance is a growing concern for both buyers and sellers.
Furthermore, traditional payment and settlement solutions used for power grids were designed as one-way solutions and are too cumbersome to use for small energy production. More flexible solutions are required. Our project with EDP has explored the issue of energy production in a developing market. In contrast, our deployments with Wien Energie are exploring this in developed markets.
III. SMART CITY OPTIMIZATION
The founding vision of RIDDLE&CODE was to connect physical objects to the blockchain. When devices can communicate securely within a distributed environment and leverage energy harvesting, a new generation of captors enables smart city optimisation. 1.5 billion people live in the 600 large cities of the world. They account for well over half of the world’s economic activity.
Having devices that can run without any external power is, of course, the first energy optimisation. Optimized routes within cities will significantly lower energy consumption and pollution, also by reducing both mileage and congestion. In a future blog post we will explain how this is done with NFC (Near Field Communications) using Ultra High Frequencies (UHF).
Incentivisation is essential for all three previous examples. As individuals and members of organisations, we are all responsible for energy consumption. So if every individual on the planet took a small action, the impact would be massive. Blockchain provides secure identity to individuals, machines and institutions. A smart city environment could record energy consumption patterns, and assuming social and political will is available, reward the most efficient behaviour patterns. Straightforward cases include more efficient traffic routes, for example. Less obvious ones might optimise rubbish pickup points or incentivise ridesharing instead of public transport for remote areas.
Spurring ourselves and our organisations into action on climate change can seem a daunting task without knowing where to start. We hope that through the real-world projects described above that you’ll appreciate that improving our energy efficiency is a reachable goal to lower our carbon footprint and that we’ve already started.
To find out more, read on RIDDLE&CODE Smart Energy Solution or free feel to contact us directly.