Tuesday, 30 October 2018 11:40

Estonia's energy grid tokenised using blockchain

Estonia's energy grid tokenised using blockchain Pixabay

Green energy procurement and trading platform WePower has completed a nationwide energy tokenisation pilot project in Estonia, along with transmission system operator Elering.

A statement from WePower said the aim was to convert energy consumption and production data onto the blockchain on a national scale and the results were positive for both energy and blockchain industries.

Kaspar Karleep, chief technology officer of WePower, said: “Projects of this scale and ambition haven’t been attempted before, in part because of the complexity involved, but also because energy data is highly sensitive.

"Blockchain is the ideal enabler because its foundational principle is trust, which can be leveraged to bring revolutionary transparency to the industry. The project will deepen our understanding of blockchain as a means to share data, paving the way for much needed innovation in the energy industry.”

Estonia was a good subject for this project as it has 100% smart meter coverage and a data-sharing platform called Estfeed which lets consumers download and share their data with any individuals or companies of their choice. They are also able to access anonymous and aggregated data, such as that used for WePower’s pilot.

WePower’s engineers were able to successfully upload such a large amount of real-world data to the blockchain – proving that it was possible.

The first phase allowed WePower to validate and verify the logic and processes that would be at the core of the WePower platform. In total, 26,000 hours and 24TWh of energy production and consumption data was uploaded to blockchain, creating a total of 39 billion Smart Energy Tokens.

One key finding was that ethereum is mature enough to accommodate contracts with multi-year terms. But it was found that a fully decentralised application for large-scale autonomous usage was not yet feasible for WePower’s purposes. A hybrid solution is being used, while monitoring the rapid development of Ethereum as well as other blockchain technologies.

Through testing real data, WePower built a fundamental new technology layer for the energy industry.

This will allow for both software and hardware innovation that will bring much-needed change to the way energy markets operate – especially when it comes to developing models for more effective integration of distributed green energy with the grid, enabling new interactions between different partners and breaking silos between energy market participants.

Taavi Veskimägi, chief executive of Elering, the Estonian TSO that operates Estfeed, said: “Future clean and secure energy will depend on innovative solutions and consumer empowerment. However, a major barrier in most countries is lack of access to energy data. Estfeed unlocks data access within Estonia and we are now working towards doing this on an international level. WePower's proof of concept is important for showing how data access leads to innovation.”

Nikolaj Martyniuk, chief executive of WePower, said: “The energy and wider infrastructure sectors have been largely untouched by the digital disruption that has transformed so many other industries. Start-ups rarely tackle big infrastructure issues because of the cost and complexity involved, but our approach deploys blockchain as the critical means to change this.

"Making sector data available on the blockchain enables new innovation with an built-in trust protocol.The successful delivery of our project with Elering shows that we can solve real-world problems at scale.”

In February 2018, WePower completed the largest ever initial coin offering in the energy space, hitting its US$40 million hard-cap with 22,933 contributors.

The company’s Ethereum-based energy tokens are essentially digital self-settling power purchase contracts, which each represent one kilowatt-hour of power produced. They are tradable and can also be liquidated into the local energy wholesale market. This is achieved by linking digital contracts with power grid data on the blockchain.

WePower received the consumption data from Elering aggregated at the zip code level in order to ensure anonymity of private individuals due to the requirements of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. The project followed the safety and security of supply standards for Transmission and Distribution System Operators.

The pilot has boosted WePower as the team has greater certainty of the impact they can achieve around the world. WePower plans to launch Australian operations soon.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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