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News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

Talk about a disruptive technology. The “world’s leading software platform for digital assets,” blockchain may be little known, but it could revolutionize electricity markets. Blockchain , in short, is a secure, decentralized, and highly efficient way to manage and keep track of infinite transactions. Rather than being stored on a central server, peer-to-peer transactions are replicated across a number of computers, creating a data store that records exchanges in almost real time. To ensure the transactions are secure, authenticity and identity are maintained through cryptography and digital signatures. Bitcoin – perhaps the most-recognized blockchain application – already is challenging conventional money exchangers. According to Cambridge University researchers, almost 6 million people use this cryptocurrency in order to make electronic peer-to-peer transactions without an intermediary such as a bank. And because blockchain technology is decentralized and accessible from multiple locations, Bitcoin funds can’t be frozen, withheld, seized, or taken. When it comes to electricity, blockchain could offer a reliable, rapid, and low-cost means to record and validate financial and operational transactions. These transactions could include selling and buying electricity – again without an intermediary, in this case the incumbent utility monopoly. In light of the rapid rise of distributed (decentralized) energy resources like batteries and solar panels, some analysts even believe the market for blockchain applications is significantly larger in the energy sector than for financial services. Blockchain could serve as a backbone technology for electricity markets based on multiple sellers and buyers, or peer-to-peer transactions. This type of market stands in contrast to tradition: “The old system of a few big power plants and vertically-integrated utilities didn’t really need blockchain,” says Michael Liebreich, chairman of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. But the new, evolving energy system – which gives people more choice and control over their electricity use and costs – could take advantage of the disruptive technology. Blockchain is gaining particular attention in Europe where utilities have less market control and distributed generation, like home solar and electric vehicles, is accelerating: Here in the States, Brooklyn residents are testing blockchain technology to buy and sell solar energy. Who will take most advantage of blockchain remains an open question when it comes to electricity markets. The ability to trade electricity could increase substantially the power of customers, as well as grid flexibility and efficiency. Blockchain also could enable customers to easily switch to electricity suppliers with better offers. For example, Electron and Data Communications Company have a platform that enables British customers to sign up to a new seller within a day. Businesses also may benefit. For instance, a factory with solar panels could sell its excess electricity to another manufacturer. So, on one hand, the technology’s ability to circumvent a central point of authority – aka, the utility – suggests individuals and companies will safely and quickly exchange energy services, eliminating a key portion of the utility’s business and revenue. Yet others argue that a blockchain platform will be a key asset to electric utilities, or: “… part of the answer to updating and improving centralized, legacy systems with a distributed hybrid system made up of a patchwork of both large power plants and microgrids powered by distributed energy resources such as solar power.” These analysts admit blockchain will disrupt electricity markets by enabling decentralized power, yet they believe “the established utilities are best placed to evaluate and make strategic bets on blockchain technology’s potential applications.” Blockchain likely will face opposition from entrenched utilities, and regulators will want to ensure the platform is safe and reliable. Diverse stakeholders in electricity markets also will need to establish common industry standards. Yet as more stakeholders consider grid modernization and new utility business models, this disruptive technology suggests innovative models and approaches for delivering efficient, reliable, affordable, and clean energy.


News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

DMG Productions is proud to announce that PeerNova, Inc. (PeerNova) will be featured in an upcoming episode of Innovations w/Ed Begley Jr., airing third quarter 2017 on FOX Business. PeerNova is a Silicon Valley-based Blockchain -inspired technology company founded by veteran entrepreneurs with deep expertise in distributed systems, networking solutions, Big Data, compiler technology, and financial services. In this episode of Innovations, audiences will learn how PeerNova drew on inspiration from millennial Blockchain technology and millennia-old recordkeeping practices to develop the first immutable ledger with built-in audit, event lineage, permissioned-access, scale, and other capabilities necessary to help the world’s most trusted financial institutions store, secure, and validate their data. “PeerNova helps financial institutions ensure the integrity of their data, meet constantly rising regulatory and compliance standards, and complete successful audits with fewer resources,” said Michael Devine, Senior Producer for the Innovations series. “We look forward to learning more about the latest developments in blockchain technology.” About PeerNova, Inc. PeerNova combines the best of Blockchain , Big Data, and Cloud to uniquely enable financial institutions to securely and verifiably manage their data and address their reconciliation, audit, and compliance challenges. Based in Silicon Valley, the PeerNova team has expertise in distributed systems, Blockchain technology, networking solutions, compiler technology, Big Data, and financial services. For more information, please visit http://www.peernova.com or contact Navid Jafari, Director of Marketing, PeerNova, Inc. at: navidj@peernova.com. About Innovations and DMG Productions: Innovations, hosted by award winning actor Ed Begley, Jr., is an information-based series geared toward educating the public on the latest breakthroughs in all areas of society. Featuring practical solutions and important issues facing consumers and professionals alike, Innovations focuses on cutting-edge advancements in everything from health and wellness to global business, renewable energy, and more. DMG Productions (responsible for creating the Innovations show) includes personnel specialized in various fields from agriculture to medicine, independent films to regional news and more. Field producers work closely with experts in the field to develop stories. This powerful force enables DMG to consistently produce commercial-free, educational programming that both viewers and networks depend on. For more information visit http://www.InnovationsTelevision.com or contact: Michael Devine at (866) 496-4065 or info@InnovationsTelevision.com.


News Article | May 22, 2017
Site: www.sciencemag.org

If you’ve heard of bitcoins, it may have been in the context of people using the digital currency to pay off ransom demands for the contents of their hacked computers or buy drugs on the dark web. But the underlying cryptographic technology, a growing chain of time-stamped records or “blocks” that is shared between many computers, forming a “ blockchain, ” could also be used to help save the environment, according to a commentary published today in by Guillaume Chapron, an ecologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Riddarhyttan. spoke with him about the future of money, the government, and trust. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. A: The blockchain—by which I mean the technology underlying all blockchains—is a protocol to build an immutable ledger, a database of transactions. You could say it’s a kind of decentralized supercomputer that creates trust. Q: How can it help the environment? A: Environmental problems emerge because we lack trust. The environmental crisis grows in a fertile ground, which is the multiplication of intermediaries. To take an example, if you buy a fish at the supermarket, the supply chain is very long. The supermarket might not even know where it came from. And so there are multiple opportunities for environmentally unsustainable goods to enter the supply chain. A blockchain-based supply chain would mean that when you buy a fish, you scan a QR code [like a bar code] with your smartphone, and you see every step. And you know that it cannot be falsified. The blockchain can also change how we treat ownership. In many developing countries, land rights are not properly defined and a government or a company could claim a land that is owned by a local community. So if we were to put a land registry on the blockchain, it would be immutable. We could not falsify that land registry. The blockchain can also influence policymaking. Blockchain voting is a very cheap and secure way of organizing elections. Now, if you want to organize an election on how to manage a natural resource, whether it’s a forest or fishery, you need to plan the infrastructure, you need the ballot boxes, you need to tell people to go out and vote that day. That takes a lot of money, a lot of time. And in the end maybe people may not trust the results. With a blockchain, you could vote with a smartphone and your cryptographic identity and achieve strong security. The fourth way is by changing incentives. A blockchain can ensure that an event will happen. That sounds a bit strange, but if you put a contract on the blockchain, you can include business logic as computer code. When a condition is met, the contract will be automatically executed. For example, we could have satellites remotely monitoring biodiversity, and if we reach a certain amount of biodiversity in an area we could reward the local community with immediate and direct payment. You could say, “How are you going to pay communities if they don’t have bank accounts, which is the case for about 2 billion people on the planet?” Then comes the blockchain again. They can simply create a bitcoin wallet as soon as they have access to the internet. Q: Are there downsides to the blockchain? A: There are several downsides. The first one is that the blockchain is still slow. It handles seven transactions per second, compared to 2000 for the Visa network. And then the big irony is that the blockchain is a giant sucker of energy, consuming almost twice that of the whole company Google. What’s needed is to develop a more energy-efficient algorithm. Another disadvantage is, if you have a bitcoin wallet and you lose your private key, your digital signature, then your bitcoins are lost forever. What we need is to hide the cryptographic complexity in smartphone apps. Q: Are a lot of ecologists interested in the blockchain approach? A: I’m not aware of any other academic papers that link the blockchain to how it can help the environment. We need more development. We have FinTech, which is using new computer technology to help the financial industry, but I am proposing the term SusTech, which is using new technology like the blockchain to help sustainability. And the other that has not been much mentioned before is cryptogovernance. We have cryptocurrency, like bitcoin. What I propose is to explore governance that relies on cryptography, through elections and contracts. When people understand more and more what the blockchain will allow, they will have more and more new ideas that we can’t imagine today. My paper is intended to stimulate thinking.


News Article | April 11, 2017
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

This post is about one of the hottest topics in energy business, the blockchain. While there are many discussions already going on about the technological dimension and business cases based on the new technology, we –as usual – will focus on the institutional side again. Importantly, we intend to sketch a first general picture of the potential institutional implications of the blockchain technology in the energy sector, thereby keeping in mind that the full potential, applicability and success of this new technology is still uncertain. On 14th February 2017 energy and blockchain experts met in Vienna on the Event Horizon 2017 to discuss the potential of the blockchain technology for the energy sector. The general idea behind such events like the one in Vienna seems to be very compelling: Can we apply a decentralized ledger technology like the blockchain to a system that currently develops towards an increasingly decentralized structure (due to the diffusion of renewable electricity supply and new applications on the demand side, like electric vehicles), like the electricity system? Today, blockchain is a niche topic in energy business, with less than 2% of all startups that focus on blockchain technology targeting specifically the energy sector. However, the incumbent energy business becomes aware that blockchain is an important topic with huge potential. Now, if we take a look at the debate on the Event Horizon, we see very passionate people from different startups and a lot of enthusiasm. This is because the blockchain is based on a very good selling idea: At low costs, it uses a transparent distributed system that is based on democratic processes and replaces less transparent intermediate services. These three components (cost saving, transparency and democratic decision making) are very compelling and are, at least from our point of view, the main reason why blockchain gains some much audience at the moment. Still, blockchain is in its infancy, with many obstacles to overcome (for a more details see this post). Especially on the technical side, the blockchain technology has yet to prove that it can meet the (very high) expectations. Yli-Huumo et al. (2016) give a nice overview of the current challenges for the blockchain technology: From our perspective, especially the energy intensity is very interesting. Croman et al. (2016) calculated for BitCoin that the energy costs related to each transaction add up to 6.2$, given the current design of BitCoin (1 MB per block, latency of 10 minutes). For the future, Croman et al. (2016) project that these costs could be cut by 80% with larger block size (4 MB) and higher latency (12 seconds). So at this point, we can conclude that the blockchain is a promising technology, but far from being ready for the mass market. In a nutshell, the blockchain is a distributed, digital peer-to-peer register, which stores every transaction between two connected agents in a ledger. This ledger is distributed globally on all connected nodes. This distributed data set consists of a collection of historic data about all transactions made. Each transaction is added to the dataset as a new block (in a linear and chronological order), which results in a full record of all transactions made between two parties. As each connected note carries the same data set, algorithms can be used on each computer to verify transactions. If you want to know more about the technical details you can take a deep dive here. Currently, many different blockchains pop up. Basically, we can differentiate these chains using two criteria: Today, most blockchains are public permissionless ledgers, i.e. there is no central supervision of the ledger and the responsibility to manage the system is with its users. With permissionless blockchains, everyone can connect to the blockchain and use it for transactions. Figure 1: The difference between private and public blockchains The public blockchain uses a public and distributed ledger to verify transactions. If there needs to be an adaptation of the public blockchain, this requires in most cases consensus (or at least majority) decisions by all users. On the other hand, one institution or a group of institutions supervises a private and commissioned blockchain. Access to the private blockchain is restricted, verification is based on the private blockchain and the hosting institution is responsible for the management of the blockchain ledger. Figure 2 gives a first overview of prominent examples for permission and permissionless public and private blockchains. Obviously, a permissionless private blockchain is a theoretical construct. So far, this approach has not been used in the real world. Figure 2: Some examples for permissioned and permissionless / public and private blockchains The blockchain might change or even disrupt many sectors as it challenges the business case of intermediaries. Merz (2016) here refers to “disintermediation”. So far, many business models are based on the fact that two parties that want to execute a transaction do not have enough information about each other to process the transaction. In different markets, disintermediation has been an issue for retailers due to new digital platform providers, e.g. amazon, Uber and AirBnB (Merz 2016). Now, the blockchain technology offers the potential to substitute service of intermediates in more than just the retail business. Expectations are that private as well as public blockchains can significantly alter the electricity sector if the underlying blockchain technology proves successful. In Burger et al. (2016), experts from the incumbent energy business identify the largest potential of the blockchain in retail business. Especially Peer-2-Peer trading offers an interesting potential for the electricity sector. Figure 3: Potential applications of blockchain in the energy sector according to expert interviews conducted by Burger et al. (2016) The Brooklyn MicroGrid project by LO3 Inc. as well as Power Ledger activities in Australia nicely illustrate the potential of blockchain for local p2p trade based on the blockchain technology. In these projects decentralized energy providers (households with PV) sell locally produced electricity to their neighbours via blockchain. The combined processing of transactions of physical energy and financial resources seems to be a very promising application for the blockchain technology. However, these projects go beyond retail. They show us the potential of blockchain technology to operate the grid based on a decentralized ledger technology. If we imagine that most devices that are connected to the electricity grid have access to the same blockchain, it seems possible that these devices autonomously coordinate (e.g. via smart contracts) their electricity production or consumption not only according to market signals, but to stabilise the distribution grid. IBM (2015) uses the term “device democracy” to describe the autonomous coordinate between devices via the blockchain. Given the assumption that the autonomous coordination between the electric devices actually works (meaning that enough transactions per second are possible etc.), we can imagine that the blockchain reduces the complexity related to network operation. For example, the DSO could operate a (private) permissioned blockchain and all devices that are connected to the DSOs electricity grids have to use this blockchain to track transactions. This would give the DSO the power not only to supervise, but to intervene into the processes in the blockchain in case of emergencies. If the stability of the grid is challenged (even if smart contracts are working), the DSO could either use automated processes to secure grid stability (which he can do in any blockchain, private or public), or even stronger measures (resets, stop transactions or “hard fork” i.e. delete all transactions for a certain period). If the blockchain proves to be applicable in the energy sector, we can expect this to have significant effects. Obviously, the degree to which the blockchain might or might not change the energy sector strongly depends on the specific applications of the blockchain, the regulatory framework and many other aspects. Due to the early stage in the development of blockchain technology, it is not possible (at least for us), to foresee if and how exactly this technology will change the energy business. Some important changes, however, seem foreseeable. We identify a significant potential of blockchain to change the role concept in the electricity sector. Therefore, we speak of institutional disruption in the title. Some of the existing roles in the electricity supply chain might become obsolete (Do we still need retailers if all data is exchanged directly between the electricity producer and the consumer?), new roles and tasks might evolve and some business cases and roles might not be affected by blockchain applications at all (Does the Blockchain change the electricity generation business case?). Most prominently, the blockchain technology has the potential to influence the retail business. The degree to how the blockchain might alter the retail business can vary significantly. First, retailers could make use of the blockchain technology to increase the efficiency of their business by cutting costs. This application of the blockchain would be comparable to the current developments in the finance sector, where the incumbent financial institutions apply the blockchain technology to their established products to reduce costs. While this might offer new business opportunities in the retail sector, from an institutional perspective, the blockchain technology would not change much. Rather, we could expect institutional implications if retail becomes an autonomous application sold together with generation assets (like PV), storages or consumption devices. As a consequence, retail business would be substituted by autonomous smart contracts that are provided together with generation or consumption devices. Let’s suppose that network operation is based on smart contracts or other autonomous processes that secure frequency and voltage control as well as balancing. These autonomous processes might trigger a discussion about responsibilities: The higher the degree of automation and the higher the number of autonomous devices (generation and consumption) that can provide network services, the lower is the need for supervision. This might lead to the question how many network operators are required and whether the responsibility for network stability could be centralized or even completely decentralized. Such a development would result in a new “market structure” on the network level with either a very high concentration (with just one network operator) or a very fragmented structure with very decentralized network operators (potentially on the consumer level). This might in turn require an adaptation of the institutional design as well, e.g. the way we regulate the network operators. Concerning regulation, the blockchain might offer the potential to simplify the process of regulation and increase efficiency. Giancarlo (2016) speaks of the opportunity for regulators to get access to the golden record, the real-time ledger(s) of all regulated participants (if the regulated entities make use of the blockchains and the regulator has access to them). Then, the regulator would become able to analyse and understand all processes the regulated entities are involved in. To apply the idea of the “golden record” to the energy sector could alter regulation, for example of the distribution grid operators, to a significant extent. As described above, the network operators could use (private or public commissioned) blockchains to operate their network. For all those transaction that are executed via the blockchain, the regulator could gain full transparency by connecting to the blockchain. Furthermore, the blockchain could simplify the interaction between the regulator and the regulated entities. For example, an increased transparency for the regulator via the blockchain about the DSOs activities could change the way network operators can manage their grids. Here, current discussions in Europe focus on the question whether and how the DSO could use flexibility provided by market parties to increase the feed-in of RES. From the regulator’s perspective, the network operator’s interaction with market parties increases the risk of market distortions, at least as long as network operators are not fully unbundled from the competitive businesses in generation and retail (CEER 2015). Such reservations by the regulator are primarily driven by the missing transparency of company-internal as well as market processes. The blockchain technology might provide the necessary transparency to the regulator, which could drive the regulator to allow the DSO to interact with the market (e.g. based on smart contracts) in the blockchain. Then, the DSO might be able to more efficiently integrate RES, i.e. at lower costs than today. Furthermore, less information asymmetry might reduce the need for further unbundling of DSOs if they want to interact more closely with market parties. As discussed above, the introduction of blockchains could trigger some institutional changes in the electricity sector. These institutional changes could affect both, the retail and the network sector. We could move towards a world where generators directly sell electricity to the customers, which results in a stronger integration of generation and retail business. Potentially, retail won’t remain an independent part of the supply chain, but an automated and autonomous process conducted by the generators and consumers themselves. Furthermore, the “golden record” idea by Giancarlo (2016a) provides a basis to reduce information asymmetry between the regulator and the network operators, potentially leading to more unbundling than is the status quo. If you liked this article please let me and others know by sharing it! This might be interesting for you as well: Permalink


News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: www.nature.com

Today's modes of governance are prone to corruption and are unable to steer humanity towards sustainability, despite the ongoing global environmental crisis. A technological innovation triggered by another crisis — the 2008 financial meltdown — offers radical solutions. Bitcoin, an open-source virtual currency, or 'cryptocurrency', was launched by an anonymous developer in 2008 as a way to trade without banks, which were failing. Bitcoin's total market worth exceeds US$28 billion — greater than large companies such as Renault. The Bitcoin currency is completely secure because it uses a digital protocol that relies on cryptography: the blockchain. This ledger keeps track of all Bitcoin transactions. No central authority controls the blockchain — its operation is distributed across many computer platforms around the world. Bitcoin's strength lies in how it approaches trust. Instead of checking the trustworthiness of each party, the system assumes that everyone behaves selfishly. No matter how greedily traders act, the blockchain retains integrity and can be trusted even if the parties cannot. Bitcoin demonstrates that banks and governments are unnecessary to ensure a financial system's reliability, security and auditability1. The arrival of the blockchain has been compared to the invention of double-entry book-keeping (first described in print in the fifteenth century by Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli), which enabled the modern economy. I think that its implications reach far beyond finance, to governance and sustainability. Lawyers guarantee contracts and states guarantee the rule of law in the same way as central banks guarantee currencies. Governing institutions need to establish trust between individuals, groups, firms and societies. If humans repeatedly fail to build trust, perhaps algorithms should replace them. The environmental crisis is growing partly because of a lack of trust — the increasing distance between multiple actors who are unknown to each other, from companies and governments to individual consumers, creates many opportunities for fraud and failed policies. The time is ripe for 'cryptogovernance', in which trust, law and enforcement are outsourced to computer code. For sustainability, blockchain technology could be a game-changer. It can generate trust where there is none, empower citizens and bypass central authorities. It could also make existing institutions obsolete, including governments, and raise fierce opposition. Laws could be replaced with 'smart contracts' written in computer code. The blockchain proves with certainty that a recorded piece of information — a piece of data, document, transaction, certificate, event or identity — existed at a particular time. If an asset can be assigned a unique digital identifier, such as a barcode, then it can be included (see ' Blockchain governance'). That identifier is run through a cryptographic function that turns it into a unique string of numbers and letters, called a hash; this is stored in the blockchain. The hash can be recalculated later to prove that the asset existed at a particular time. There is no need to reveal the asset itself. For example, the start-up firm Proof of Existence uses the blockchain to certify and time-stamp digital documents, such as official certificates like diplomas, or scientific or medical data. The hashing function operates only in one direction — the hash value does not allow you to go back and obtain the original document that generated it, and you cannot guess which document will give you a particular hash value. This means that Bitcoin certificates cannot be forged. The system says nothing about the veracity of the data or documents registered; this must be assessed by other means. For instance, the identities and reputations of human assessors can be assured using cryptographic key infrastructure, meaning that only certified and reputable assessors can enter data. And data generated automatically from sensors — such as radio frequency identification chips or sensors for temperature or water quality — can be hashed and fed directly into the blockchain. Blockchain technology can guarantee that a planned event will happen. For example, an invoice will be automatically paid when a shipment arrives1. This is done by drawing up 'smart contracts' that represent business logic written in computer code. That code is implemented on the blockchain using a programming extension called Ethereum2. Smart contracts execute when particular conditions are met. Barclays corporate banking arm is prototyping their use in financial services, for example. Smart contracts have many advantages. Their execution is independent of the will, approval or actions of the parties involved, and it is impossible to withdraw from them. They require no trusted third party or escrow document to manage them. They are cheap. Computer code has less ambiguity than natural languages. And they are independent of existing legal rules or institutions. Smart contracts could be used to set up autonomous digital entities to manage natural resources3. For example, a quota for extracting natural resources could be issued to a community only after remote sensing data have proved that the community has met conservation targets. This natural resource would be stamped with a sustainability certificate that permits the community to access a market for these certified products. At least four areas related to governance and sustainability could benefit from using the blockchain. Ownership. From a birth certificate to a fish or a forest, the blockchain can certify the existence and ownership of anything that can be digitalized. For example, a certificate stating a community owns a forest can be logged in the blockchain with a time stamp. The certificate's authenticity can be proved by showing a document that returns the same hash. Start-up companies are beginning to do this — the firm Benben in Accra is developing land-title registries for Ghana using the blockchain, and Georgia and Honduras are doing the same. This could limit the eviction of local populations by industries or corrupt governments. Traceability. Physical goods can be traced throughout their life cycle. The start-up firm Everledger in London certifies and tracks trade in diamonds, to reduce sales of stolen gems or conflict stones from warlords. The technology platform Provenance, also in London, is developing a blockchain-based protocol to track resources and materials. It worked with the Indonesian fishing industry last year to trace sustainably caught fish along the supply chain. Minerals, wood or food could similarly be followed. Customs officials could spot illegally traded animal parts or plants by using portable DNA barcode scanners. Other commodities could have their ecological footprints tagged in the blockchain if the footprint were linked to the Internet of Things, with sensors recording the environmental impacts of manufacturing processes. Walmart is tracking its pork supply chain in China by recording information such as farm origin and storage temperature in the blockchain. Companies could also track how much water, energy or raw material they use. The overall environmental impact of firms or consumers could be recorded on the blockchain and sustainable behaviour rewarded through incentives such as tax rebates. Building a life-cycle record of goods would also help to develop the circular economy. Incentives. Two billion adults worldwide lack banking services. The blockchain could allow them to enter the financial economy: bitcoins can be transferred without a bank account. Communities that have rights to natural resources could receive direct payments in bitcoins for ecosystem services or for meeting conservation targets. Healthy ecosystems could replace other forms of capital storage, such as cattle. The blockchain could ensure that conservation and development funding is used as intended. Money can be tracked, attached to a specific purpose, have an expiry date or be released when project milestones are met. Funds cannot be siphoned off. Middlemen are cut out. The blockchain makes it easier to collect insurance against, say, crop damage by wildlife. Payments are immediate, minimizing delay or corruption, although clerks are still needed to assess the damages. Communities could trade renewable energy through the blockchain affordably, quickly and reliably without being controlled by a third party. An Ethereum-based trading platform for carbon credits was launched in March 2017 on the Russian carbon market by a climate finance group. Policymaking. The blockchain will disrupt all institutions, including governments4. A public, shared and immutable register of assets and transactions can help the public to hold politicians accountable. Authorities cannot withdraw or forge evidence, nor seize or shut down blockchain-based institutions. Votes may be cast as transactions5. Blockchain voting has been used by a South Korean community government in a local budget ballot. It is also being implemented for a Danish political party's internal elections, and for shareholders of NASDAQ companies listed on the Tallinn stock exchange. The postal service Australia Post is looking into using it for university and civic elections. The city of Moscow is exploring applying the blockchain to bypass voting fraud. Local communities could be empowered to manage their natural resources through ad hoc voting. For example, fish might be traded on a platform only if harvest quotas were approved by a community-based democratic process. The blockchain can revolutionize the 'sharing economy' by giving control back to users. For example, smart contracts between individual taxi drivers and passengers could replace app-based systems such as the taxi service Uber. An agreed payment for transporting someone would be delivered only when the passenger reached their desired point, and the driver would know before picking the person up that they have the funds to pay. As Vitalik Buterin, founder of the Ethereum blockchain, said: “Instead of putting the taxi driver out of a job, blockchain puts Uber out of a job and lets the taxi drivers work with the customer directly”1. There are obstacles. Bitcoin is slow: it is limited to 7 transactions per second, compared with an average of 2,000 transactions per second for the Visa credit network6. To run and check its complex algorithms, Bitcoin requires a network of dedicated 'mining farms' of high computing power, most of which are based in China, Georgia, the United States, Canada and Sweden (see also Nature 526, 21–23; 2015). These use a comparable amount of electricity to whole cities7. Bitcoin is estimated to consume about 10.4 terawatt hours a year7, almost twice that used by Google as a company (5.7 TWh). Like any emerging technology, the blockchain will take time and encouragement to be adopted. Simple applications, such as storing value in coins, will be taken up sooner than complex ones, such as setting up autonomous digital organizations8. In its favour is the ubiquity of smartphones: for instance, 43% of Kenya's gross domestic product is now spent through mobile phones. But the benefits and risks of Bitcoin will be hard for people to understand, because the technology is complicated. If you lose your cryptographic key to a Bitcoin wallet there is no way to recover the coins, and no one to turn to. Some governments and institutions will undoubtedly resist the blockchain fiercely, once they realize its disruptive potential. However, it is also a tool to increase efficiency and economic growth. And it is now too late to ban Bitcoins. Even with the blockchain, governance will remain political. For instance, the choice to use it promotes a certain world view, in which the central authority of the state is transferred to a decentralized consensus of computers. Blockchain law, in the form of a set of 'if-then-else' instructions, may emerge as a legal system in its own right, alongside common and civil law. It will be challenging to work out how the different legal systems can interact. Legal languages are nuanced and must be interpreted by trained lawyers; programming languages consist of unambiguous machine instructions. Courts are unlikely to understand computer code. And programmers may not understand the real-world implications of their code. Although the lifetime of smart contracts can be limited, computational laws cannot be stopped or unplugged, and are enforced regardless of their consequences9. Blockchain technology is already entering segments of the economy. Sustainability should become one of them. Sustainability scientists and blockchain developers must meet and discuss problems and solutions. Funding agencies should encourage 'SusTech' proposals for technology that blends cryptography and sustainability. Researchers need to find more energy-efficient mechanisms for Bitcoin mining. Psychological research is needed into people's trust of technology in the context of cryptography. Most importantly, programmers and lawyers must collaborate on formulating smart contracts. Dictionaries will be needed that link legal languages and computer codes. It is time for blockchain governance. It could benefit people and help societies to become sustainable.


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.greentechmedia.com

Earlier this month Shell, Statoil, Tepco, Centrica and a half-dozen other energy companies joined the Energy Web Foundation, an alliance devoted to bringing blockchain to the grid. The companies donated $2.5 million to the organization. The foundation was set up in February this year as a collaboration between Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Austrian blockchain developer Grid Singularity to “accelerate the commercial deployment of blockchain technology in the energy sector.” The companies and organizations involved think blockchain will be a game-changer for energy, and are working together to provide the frameworks and standards to help ensure that outcome. Jesse Morris, principal for electricity and transportation practices at RMI and co-founder of the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), said the foundation's immediate aim is to garner more affiliates and funding, while developing an open-source blockchain application for use in the energy sector. Initially, partner organizations will evaluate the software, and potentially release it to the public in 2019 or 2020, if all goes well. Blockchain is best known as the platform for Bitcoin. It is an encrypted, distributed database that allows all users to track every transaction -- thus eliminating the need for an intermediary. Blockchain enthusiasts believe the technology can also be used to seamlessly transact electrons between consumers on the grid, while keeping an accurate, incorruptible tally of where they came from and where they went. It could encourage greater peer-to-peer sales on the grid and lay the foundation for microgrids and distributed renewables. “We have a strong hypothesis that blockchain will solve a lot of long-running problems in the energy sector,” said Morris. “Overcoming these challenges could make small, incremental changes to energy infrastructure and markets in the near term, while others would be more far-reaching and disruptive." Certificates (also known as guarantees) of origin would assure the user that a particular megawatt-hour of electricity was produced from renewables. According to Morris, the U.S. alone has 10 different tracking systems, Asia-Pacific has several more, and each European country has its own system of certification. Blockchain could be used to transparently guarantee the origin of the electrons. Longer-term, and more radically, RMI sees the future of electricity networks being driven by the billions of energy storage and HVAC units, EVs, solar roof panels and other devices and appliances at the grid edge. Blockchain s can allow any of them to set their own level of participation on the grid, without the need for an intermediary. And crucially, they can be configured so that if a grid operator needs guaranteed capacity, the grid-edge unit can communicate back to the grid whether or not it’s up to the task. This is an example of what Morris described as blockchain’s ability to “fuse the physical with the virtual” via machine-to-machine communication. However, these are still early days. Foundation members have a lot of work to do in order to ensure its credibility, prove the technology works for energy applications, and lay down the foundation for widespread adoption. “Think of it like the App Store,” remarked David Peters, director of strategy and innovation at grid owner-operator Stedin B.V. “We at the EWF are building a shared infrastructure where we can build on top the developed code.” Stedin joined EWF because it believes in blockchain’s potential. “It gives us access to the best blockchain people in the world,” Peters said. He hopes the widespread adoption of the technology will “lower the barriers of participation” for the grid. Engie, the French multinational electric utility, had already conducted its own blockchain research projects before joining EWF. Among them was a program to track smart meters in Burgundy, keeping detailed tabs on solar panel electricity production, and facilitating transactions of a small peer-to-peer community energy trading project in Belgium. Engie's Director of Research and Technologies Raphael Schoentgen explained that blockchain is a promising technology to track smart meter data. “It contributes to better management of electrons over the grid,” he remarked. The technology’s ability to automate transactions for peer-to-peer trading is of key interest to Dr. Hans-Heinrich Kleuker, the CEO of Technische Werke Ludwigshafen, whose company is now also part of EWF. “We’ll see many more consumers with either an energy deficit or a surplus in the near future, and the desire to trade that energy, ” he said. “Machine-to-machine communication, such as that offered via blockchain, will be essential to manage the vast number of transactions needed.” Such trades would certainly be beyond the capabilities of a small, local utility such as TWL, said Kleuker. “We are looking at the convergence of different electricity markets, which are very different right now, but longer-term will be facing similar challenges,” Kleuker concluded, convinced that the application of blockchain can meet those challenges. EWF will meet at the end of May to decide which use-case scenarios from around the world it will employ to take the project forward. In the coming years, the foundation will decide on norms and standards that may allow blockchain to be used in a truly universal way and “move beyond the hype.”


Alex Tapscott, pioneer and author of the bestseller Blockchain Revolution, will appear for the first time in Europe at DES2017 with his talk on Blockchain , in which he will look at why blockchain technologies (a global, open and distributed information platform) will change what we can achieve online, how we do it and who can take part. Tapscott will present his theory of how blockchain will give rise to a new development scenario in subjects as diverse as healthcare, education, government and public administration, finance or business. Alex Tapscott will be joined on the panel of speakers by Lilian P. Coral, City of Los Angeles CDO, who will present the GeoHUB portal, based on GIS technology developed by Esri, which connects information that directly affects around 4 million members of the public, businesspeople and civil servants in the city of Los Angeles. With this platform, users, public services and citizens can access more than 500 layers of maps to check information or develop their own apps. GeoHUB also uses smart maps to bring together information from all over the city, allowing police officers, firefighters and the emergency services to make critical decisions in real time, based on a single point of access and on any device. "DES is the only event of its kind worldwide that deals with the digital transformation or a comprehensive process that affects companies in all areas of business, from technologies as transformation facilitators to business culture as a foundation for success in the digital evolution," says Lluis Altés, Strategy Director of DES|Digital Business World Congress. For the full list of speakers, please visit https://www.des-madrid.com/congress/2017-speakers/ The latest edition of this major meeting on digital transformation is supported by the leaders of the international technology industry. In just two editions, DES will have become the place to go for new technologies, where companies such as Amazon, IBM, Intel, Google, Accenture and Deloitte bring new solutions for banking, industry, retail, logistics, the automotive sector, telecommunications and the energy sector, among others. More than 18,000 delegates from 40 different countries will encounter a congress with more than 450 speakers and 180 talks on technological strategy and trends, such as Blockchain , Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things, Big Data and Analytics and Cybersecurity. For a summary of the previous edition, you can visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXWWs1znk1I For further information about the event or if you are interested in interviewing any of the speakers, please don't hesitate to contact us.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Centrica plc, Elia, Engie, Royal Dutch Shell plc, Sempra Energy , SP Group, Statoil ASA, Stedin, TWL (Technical Works Ludwigshafen AG), and Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) have joined forces to support the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), a non-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate the commercial deployment of blockchain technology in the energy sector. Thanks to their support, EWF has secured the first round of funding amounting to $2.5 million. EWF is a partnership between Rocky Mountain Institute, an independent, U.S.-based nonprofit organization focused on driving the efficient and restorative use of resources, and Grid Singularity, a blockchain technology developer specializing in energy sector applications. Blockchain technology reduces transaction costs by keeping a single logical copy of transaction records—avoiding the need for reconciliation and settlement. Because of its unique attributes, blockchain technology has the potential to play a significant and potentially game-changing role in the energy sector. On the incremental side, blockchain technology can be used to reduce the cost of utility bills or the need for working capital in wholesale market gas or electricity transactions. On the game-changing side, blockchain technology can allow millions of energy devices (HVAC systems, water heaters, electric vehicles, batteries, solar PV installations) to transact with each other at the distribution edge while providing support to utilities and grid operators to integrate more utility-scale variable renewable energy capacity at much lower cost. “The main challenge of the electricity sector in the 21st Century is to integrate more renewable energy into the grid in a cost-effective fashion in a context of largely flat or diminishing demand. The only way we know how to do this is by automating the demand side—by allowing many more participants in the grid. That means automation at the distribution edge, and integration of this automation with wholesale markets,” Hervé Touati, a managing director at RMI and president of EWF, said. “We are excited by the potential of blockchain technology as an enabler to realize that vision. Blockchain will not be the only building block of the 21st Century grid, but it will most likely be a key building block. It also provides much higher levels of cybersecurity essentially for free—which addresses, as a by-product, one of the key concerns of utility executives when it comes to distributed energy resources.” As a cofounder of EWF, Grid Singularity is leading the development of an open-source, energy-specific blockchain infrastructure that will be maintained by EWF and supporting affiliates. Grid Singularity, together with its partner Parity Technologies, will bring the most advanced blockchain technology, addressing the limitations in terms of speed and transaction costs of the currently available blockchains, and enabling features that are focused on supporting energy-specific applications. “The current test-network ‘Kovan,’ which is a proof-of-concept for the new consensus algorithm, has the ability to perform up to 1,000 transactions per second (tps) and is already used by many blockchain start-ups. By embedding further state channel technology, we intend for our architecture to facilitate scaling to 1 million tps over the next several years,” Ewald Hesse, chief executive of Grid Singularity and vice-president of EWF, said. “With the ‘Polkadot’ design conceived by Parity Technologies, we are also introducing the concept of interoperability among multiple blockchain architectures, which should free users from technology lock-in.” In parallel with the development of an open-source IT infrastructure, EWF also will work on analyzing use cases and organizing task forces to push the most promising use cases into proof of concepts and commercial applications, while incubating an ecosystem of application developers, and cooperating with regulators and standardization bodies to facilitate deployment. EWF is actively soliciting collaboration with other technology providers eager to support the open-source approach of eliminating energy market entry barriers. More information on EWF can be found at: http://www.energyweb.org. ### About Rocky Mountain Institute Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)—an independent nonprofit founded in 1982—transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. It engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing. About Grid Singularity and Parity Technologies Grid Singularity is a technology company developing an open source software platform for energy applications based on blockchain technology, and additional decentralized applications that enable automated, secure, and more efficient energy applications. Its partner and cofounder is Parity Technologies, the world’s foremost blockchain core technology firm. Established by many of the team that delivered the Ethereum network and headed by Ethereum founder and former CTO, Gavin Wood, Parity Technologies has since released the most advanced blockchain technology stack “Parity.” Parity’s software powers much of the Ethereum network and has proven to be the most reliable blockchain software. Newly designed consensus technologies, including Parity’s Proof-of-Authority algorithms, will facilitate the applications of this technology in the energy sector.


« Brookhaven team identifies active sites on catalysts for converting CO2 to methanol | Main | Volkswagen Group to invest approximately €10B in powertrain technologies over the next five years; targeting Nº 1 in e-mobility by 2022 » Centrica plc, Elia, Engie, Royal Dutch Shell plc, Sempra Energy , SP Group, Statoil ASA, Stedin, TWL (Technical Works Ludwigshafen AG), and Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) have joined forces to support the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), a non-profit organization the mission of which is to accelerate the commercial deployment of blockchain technology in the energy sector. Thanks to their support, EWF has secured the first round of funding amounting to $2.5 million. Blockchain is a decentralized, immutable shared digital ledger of transactions maintained by an online network. It originally underpinned Bitcoin, but has gained traction as a means to record and track the movement of assets. Blockchain shows promise across a wide range of business applications. EWF is a partnership between Rocky Mountain Institute, an independent, US-based non-profit organization focused on driving the efficient and restorative use of resources, and Grid Singularity, a blockchain technology developer specializing in energy sector applications. Blockchain technology reduces transaction costs by keeping a single logical copy of transaction records—avoiding the need for reconciliation and settlement. Because of its unique attributes, blockchain technology has the potential to play a significant and potentially game-changing role in the energy sector. On the incremental side, blockchain technology can be used to reduce the cost of utility bills or the need for working capital in wholesale market gas or electricity transactions. On the game-changing side, blockchain technology can allow millions of energy devices (HVAC systems, water heaters, electric vehicles, batteries, solar PV installations) to transact with each other at the distribution edge while providing support to utilities and grid operators to integrate more utility-scale variable renewable energy capacity at much lower cost. The main challenge of the electricity sector in the 21st Century is to integrate more renewable energy into the grid in a cost-effective fashion in a context of largely flat or diminishing demand. The only way we know how to do this is by automating the demand side—by allowing many more participants in the grid. That means automation at the distribution edge, and integration of this automation with wholesale markets. We are excited by the potential of blockchain technology as an enabler to realize that vision. Blockchain will not be the only building block of the 21st Century grid, but it will most likely be a key building block. It also provides much higher levels of cybersecurity essentially for free—which addresses, as a by-product, one of the key concerns of utility executives when it comes to distributed energy resources. —Hervé Touati, a managing director at RMI and president of EWF As a cofounder of EWF, Grid Singularity is leading the development of an open-source, energy-specific blockchain infrastructure that will be maintained by EWF and supporting affiliates. Grid Singularity, together with its partner Parity Technologies, will bring the most advanced blockchain technology, addressing the limitations in terms of speed and transaction costs of the currently available blockchains, and enabling features that are focused on supporting energy-specific applications. The current test-network ‘Kovan,’ which is a proof-of-concept for the new consensus algorithm, has the ability to perform up to 1,000 transactions per second (tps) and is already used by many blockchain start-ups. By embedding further state channel technology, we intend for our architecture to facilitate scaling to 1 million tps over the next several years. With the ‘Polkadot’ design conceived by Parity Technologies, we are also introducing the concept of interoperability among multiple blockchain architectures, which should free users from technology lock-in. —Ewald Hesse, chief executive of Grid Singularity and vice-president of EWF In parallel with the development of an open-source IT infrastructure, EWF also will work on analyzing use cases and organizing task forces to push the most promising use cases into proof of concepts and commercial applications, while incubating an ecosystem of application developers, and cooperating with regulators and standardization bodies to facilitate deployment. EWF is actively soliciting collaboration with other technology providers eager to support the open-source approach of eliminating energy market entry barriers.


Alex Tapscott, pioneer and author of the bestseller Blockchain Revolution, will appear for the first time in Europe at DES2017 with his talk on Blockchain , in which he will look at why blockchain technologies (a global, open and distributed information platform) will change what we can achieve online, how we do it and who can take part. Tapscott will present his theory of how blockchain will give rise to a new development scenario in subjects as diverse as healthcare, education, government and public administration, finance or business. Alex Tapscott will be joined on the panel of speakers by Lilian P. Coral, City of Los Angeles CDO, who will present the GeoHUB portal, based on GIS technology developed by Esri, which connects information that directly affects around 4 million members of the public, businesspeople and civil servants in the city of Los Angeles. With this platform, users, public services and citizens can access more than 500 layers of maps to check information or develop their own apps. GeoHUB also uses smart maps to bring together information from all over the city, allowing police officers, firefighters and the emergency services to make critical decisions in real time, based on a single point of access and on any device. "DES is the only event of its kind worldwide that deals with the digital transformation or a comprehensive process that affects companies in all areas of business, from technologies as transformation facilitators to business culture as a foundation for success in the digital evolution," says Lluis Altés, Strategy Director of DES|Digital Business World Congress. For the full list of speakers, please visit https://www.des-madrid.com/congress/2017-speakers/ The latest edition of this major meeting on digital transformation is supported by the leaders of the international technology industry. In just two editions, DES will have become the place to go for new technologies, where companies such as Amazon, IBM, Intel, Google, Accenture and Deloitte bring new solutions for banking, industry, retail, logistics, the automotive sector, telecommunications and the energy sector, among others. More than 18,000 delegates from 40 different countries will encounter a congress with more than 450 speakers and 180 talks on technological strategy and trends, such as Blockchain , Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things, Big Data and Analytics and Cybersecurity. For a summary of the previous edition, you can visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXWWs1znk1I For further information about the event or if you are interested in interviewing any of the speakers, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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