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Boulder City, CO, United States

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Boulder City, CO, United States
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News Article | May 15, 2017
Site: www.renewableenergyworld.com

On Tuesday May 9, Rocky Mountain Institute announced that ten energy companies from nine nations, including Sempra and Royal Dutch Shell, had joined the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), a nonprofit comprising of Rocky Mountain Institute and Grid Singularity, with a mission to accelerate the commercial deployment of blockchain technology in the energy sector. The foundation also announced $2.5 million in funding. This is big news. Why? Because if the vision of what blockchain can do comes true, it could eliminate a lot of the complexities around managing distributed energy resources. And the fact that major energy companies are allocating resources to understand it is evidence that blockchain is worth paying attention to.


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.”


News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.greentechmedia.com

Platform business models have redefined the modern economy. From titans of personal computing and e-commerce like Apple and Amazon, to ubiquitous financial services that we use with hardly a second thought (such as ATMs and credit cards), industries everywhere have reoriented from one-directional pipeline delivery systems to multisided platforms via which information and services flow in many directions between actors. This platform concept has also been suggested for the electric utility sector -- often under the title of a “distribution system operator,” or DSO. Concepts from platform markets hold tremendous promise for addressing many of the modern challenges on the grid, including the integration of distributed energy resources (DERs) and the business challenges associated with that. Yet despite the promise and seeming appropriateness of such concepts, the innovation and reimagining of producer/consumer relationships that platform markets can offer have been slow to be introduced on the grid. There are reasons for this. The electricity system is immensely complex, and many roles, regulations, and physical systems need to be considered before a fully baked DSO or platform design can be realized. But it would be a mistake to conclude from this that DSO platforms are out of reach or too difficult to implement in the electricity industry. In fact, DSO innovation is already happening -- in some cases in unexpected places -- and suggests that what we imagine as the DSO may or may not be the DSO we get. And that’s OK. Those and plenty of other insights came out of a discussion on this topic of Rocky Mountain Institute’s Electricity Innovation Lab (e-Lab). A bevy of opinions and proposals have been thrown around for what form a DSO system should take. Most notably, at least in the U.S., is the New York Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) process, where regulators have decided to put the utility in the role of “distributed system platform” (DSP) provider -- a variant on the DSO concept that emphasizes the role of integrating DERs to achieve system goals, including network efficiency, growth in new customer services, and greenhouse gas reductions. On the other side of the country in California, utilities are required to file distribution resource plans as part of the Golden State’s own approach to modernizing utility and distribution systems to better integrate new DERs. Meanwhile, at ComEd in Illinois, the utility has taken the lead in promoting the idea of transforming the utility to a platform business model. There, the CEO and senior utility management have publicly stated their desire to remake the utility business model into a smart energy platform model. It is not only regulators and utilities that hold this vision. To achieve their full potential, many solar companies and other third-party service providers also see the opportunity afforded by more transactional platforms on which to sell services and reach customers. As proposals and discussions pile up, the complexities of building a DSO system are also revealed. Many internet businesses and other platform markets are not capital-intensive business models (think Airbnb and Uber), and are not beholden to legacy investments and regulatory systems. But remaking the distribution grid as a multisided platform has proven hard to do. Still, some of the same value-laden opportunities afforded to digital businesses could also be taken advantage of on the grid, where they may unlock significant economic savings in reallocated capital expense and gains in economic efficiency. More than most other industries, electricity is already heavily regulated, with features of natural monopoly and significant barriers to entry (some barriers are real and others are imposed by entrenched market structures). This requires addressing thorny questions in public and institutional forums, such as public utility commission proceedings or policy debates. Just a few of the major questions that confront DSO development are: Although the DSO concept can appear relatively straightforward and attractive at first glance, it tends to get more complicated the closer you get. This is not reason for despair. In fact, the mistake may be in assuming that we need to know the answers to every DSO design question at the outset. Although the above design decisions are important and consequential, more will be learned from experiments and demonstration projects than from abstract discussions that attempt to settle everything beforehand. A few notable examples were reviewed at the e-Lab Summit, which are instructive for where DSO design might be headed. One hotbed of experimentation is New York state, where utilities under the REV process are being pushed to experiment with DSP concepts. For example, Con Edison is implementing a virtual power plant (VPP) on 300 homes in New York City and is testing new approaches to aggregate DERs, including solar and storage, to replace the need for traditional investments. The technical potential for the VPP is proving very promising, but scaling the project may be challenging -- including how to make the VPP approach compatible with existing tariff designs and how to allow aggregated resources to bid into New York Independent System Operator markets. Another exciting experiment comes from the other side of the world. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has sponsored a project to pair technology with competitive market structures in its Decentralized Energy Exchange (deX) project. At the heart of deX, DSO functions are provided by a software-as-a-service layer that reviews availability and price bids from multiple vendors to aggregate demand response and related services from individual homes. The software, provided by GreenSync, selects bids on a least-cost basis in order to deliver required energy or demand reductions to the distribution network operator (i.e., the utility). While the project’s scale is small, it introduces an interesting potential into the DSO debate: Rather than a utility vs. third-party paradigm, can some DSO functions be as simple as writing software and integrating it into the network? Hints of the DSO future may also be emerging from outside the traditional electricity sector. For example, revolutionary opportunities may emerge from blockchain-enabled systems, which could transform the ways in which data is collected and shared, not to mention how payments and other contracts are enforced. Numerous organizations and initiatives (including the Hyperledger project at Linux Foundation and RMI’s own  Energy Web Foundation) are rapidly staking out this space to develop the technology and business structures that will define new applications. What does this all mean? Clearly, we have a way to go before the DSO vision is realized. And there are certainly some big questions to wrestle with about DSO identity, revenue structures, and more. This is the reality of being in a sector that has massive legacy systems -- both physical and institutional -- and that is critically important to the economy and national security. But while those discussions proceed, it is essential that we also make space for experimentation and incremental learning. Leading states and utilities, and especially new entrants and innovators, are showing glimpses of what a platform-based electricity system may look like. These efforts should be accelerated and their successes scaled. Then, in all likelihood, those questions will start to get answered along the way. Dan Cross-Call is a manager with Rocky Mountain Institute's electricity practice. This piece was originally published at RMI's Outlet and was republished with permission.


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.

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