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U.K. Startup Seeks to Move Energy Sector to Blockchain-Based Infrastructure

Lester Coleman on 14/12/2016


A U.K.-based startup called Electron has created a platform on the Ethereum blockchain and has shown, using data from 60 energy providers, that energy supplier switches can be performed 20 times faster than current rates, yielding major cost savings, according to Techcrunch. The company, which has used simulated data from 53 million metering points, hopes to convince energy companies to move to shared blockchains.


Paul Ellis, company co-founder said he hopes the improved efficiency will convince energy industry players to upgrade their current “hodgepodge” of processes. He said the energy industry is using a technology that is 25 to 35 years old. Compared to the financial industry, the energy industry is driven to change more by regulators.


The energy industry uses shared infrastructure for balancing, settlement and registration. Electron hopes to encourage the industry to shift these functions to shared blockchains.

Blockchain Benefits


In the area of registration services, a blockchain would serve as the place of record where energy providers go to get information on assets and record transactional changes.


Ellis said blockchains would allow these functions to operate without a third party intermediary. A blockchain also removes barriers to innovation that a central service provider would have to bring.


Electron would not monetize shared blockchain infrastructure directly, but would monetize via commercial services opportunities such platforms would provide. It would be possible to offer services for switching, registration or change of ownership of properties.


The services could also be extended to other utilities like water or telecoms.


Blockchain technology could also allow households to participate in peer-to-peer energy, turning surplus energy and varying demand into a market.


Energy regulators could be given access to the blockchain to have real-time data on providers’ market shares rather than having to survey the providers.


Also read: Blockchain presents a new model for transactive energy

Two-Year Time Line


Electron has to convince the energy industry to invest in blockchains as opposed to having a single provider operate a centralized database that all players integrate with.


Ellis thinks his best-case scenario is to have the blockchain platform operating in two years. He said Ofgem, the regulator, has established a similar timeframe for the industry to provide a next-day energy provider switching platform for consumers.


Electron has raised about £400,000 in pre-seed funding from private investors and has received two grants totaling £150,000.


Electron has built and released several tools that expand the connectivity of the Ethereum and Interplanetary FIle System decentralized web projects, the company noted on its website.

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