Blockchain in the energy transition: hope or hype?

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Deutsche Welle reports that the technology that made Bitcoin possible could solve key challenges of a renewables-based energy system. The race is on to radically change how to we consume and generate power.

Block Chain energyBlockchain is the energy sector’s elusive Next Big Thing. Experts say the technology, more commonly associated with cryptocurrencies, could hold the key to transforming a traditional energy system based on centralized power plants to one powered by a multitude of volatile, diffusely scattered renewable installations.

European company TenneT is currently testing Europe’s first blockchain project to stabilise the power system, in collaboration with home solar storage producer Sonnen.

The idea is to attract “prosumers” — electricity customers who also produce their own renewable power and feed it back into the network — with free power in exchange for the contribution they can make to stabilising the grid.

Currently, the German grid isn’t up to the job of transporting electricity between the country’s windswept north — dotted with turbines that produce more power than can be consumed locally — and its energy-hungry industrial south.

TenneT and its partner are trying to create a virtual energy pool. Its building blocks — individual households with storage batteries — are distributed over a wide area and digitally interlinked.

Smart Software would allow each unit to react to changes in the grid in real time. Too little electricity on the grid, and they feed in the power they have generated themselves. Too much, and they draw it off — for example charging household appliances or electric cars.

“The biggest constraint” is not lack of computing power, but the need “to find prosumers who would be willing to participate.” What’s needed isn’t just technological progress, but a change in mentality — from thinking of the power system as a supply we passively plug into, to a network in which each user plays an active role.

Read more by following this link to the article which appeared on Deutsche Welle.


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