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Blockchain for the energy transition

Experts are relying on blockchain technology for the second phase of the energy transition.

© dpa/Sebastian Kahnert - Energy transition

Will blockchain technology be the key to the success of the energy transition? The fact is that the energy sector is undergoing radical change. This is because energy will be produced less and less in large centralised power plants and more and more in small local production units using renewable energies. This system will be based on prosumers who directly produce and consume electricity. In future they could sell this electricity using blockchain technology without the need for an energy supplier to do the accounting. Experts at the PwC business consultancy have examined this question and come to the conclusion that this technology, which has long since become standard in the finance sector, could also make a breakthrough in the energy sector.

According to the short study for the Consumer Advice Centre North Rhine-Westphalia, this Internet technology makes direct – in other words, peer to peer – transactions possible in the finance sector without the need for banks or exchanges. It involves a platform that stores and encrypts the data for a transaction between suppliers and customers. The transactions are mediated, executed and documented directly between the actors. A well-known example is Bitcoin, the Internet currency that users can exchange without a bank. This means no fees accrue, as would otherwise be the case with bank transactions. In the energy sector, therefore, electricity prices for consumers could also fall because municipal utilities, energy providers and electricity exchanges are no longer required for a transaction using blockchain.

“Promising approach for the second phase of the energy transition”

A recent German Energy Agency (dena) survey of energy industry executives confirms this trend. Almost two thirds of the decision-makers surveyed consider the further spread of blockchain likely. In fact, 21% even view the technology as the key to a fundamental market transformation, as a gamechanger; another 14% regard it as at least a niche solution. “In the second phase of the energy transition it will be crucial to link the diverse components and actors in the energy system together intelligently,” says Andreas Kuhlmann, dena chief executive. “Blockchain technology offers a promising approach for that.”