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How blockchain could revolutionise renewable energy

01 Oct 09:00 by Steve Walia

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The movement towards a more renewable future could be revolutionised by blockchain. This may yet allow the fuel we use in our own homes to be greener and cleaner, whilst offering consumers more choice. Until now, consumers have essentially had the option of buying energy from the grid and paying their utility bills. Some with their own micro-renewables have the option for self-sufficient clean energy generation, but these households are very much in the minority.

However, blockchain offers ledger technology which is decentralised, transparent and permanent. When used in the energy industry, it could be used by individuals to trade energy without utility firms. Like a peer to peer lending platform for finances, blockchain could fundamentally shift the way that energy is distributed and allow individual producers of renewable fuel to sell their energy at prices that they set themselves.

This is big news because consumers want choice and they want renewables. The move will mean that consumers are no longer forced to buy carbon fuels and can choose from a wider set of suppliers, moving away from big energy firms and their middleman costs. Distributed energy enabled via blockchain would allow renewable energy producers to connect with investors upfront, who would then be able to consume energy without the added cost of the middleman.

A case study of this distributed energy system already exists in America's Brooklyn - called the Microgrid Project. Solar panels are producing energy and the excess is being sold on to local buildings, with transactions being managed and recorded on blockchain. Sales transactions are made simply between neighbours, proving the concept of community markets for clean energy.

With blockchain poised to revolutionise clean energy, utility companies may already be feeling nervous about their future profits.