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Can blockchain technology be a threat to the energy providers?

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Blockchain technology based solutions are springing up fast around the world and they don’t just disrupt the world of finance, but can, for example, fundamentally change the world for energy companies.

Imagine a country where each house has Tesla solar tiles, or some sort of energy collecting device coupled with Tesla Powerwall, Nissan XStorage or Sunverge battery.

Instead of being “off grid”, they’re very much on it – but they’re not dependent on an energy provider. Instead, houses automatically generate, store, and trade electricity between themselves based on which neighbours need extra, and which have lots of excess in their batteries. Thanks to blockchain technology, this is no longer science fiction.

According to New Scientist, blockchain- based micro grid solutions already let neighbours trade solar power in New York and the West Coast of Australia. LO3 Energy, the start-up company behind the TransActive Grid which operates in NY, is also getting ready to expand its services to Europe and Africa.

Other companies are hot on Transactive’s heels. Grid Singularity, based in Vienna, Austria, wants to bring the same decentralised energy market to developing countries, to help distribute solar power. MIT start-up SolarCoin pays people with an alternative digital currency for generating solar energy, one coin for 1 megawatt-hour of solar electricity.

Australia’s Future Grid Forum identified scenarios that could alter the electricity ecosystem by 2050. Each one presented changes to the traditional business model with a range of shifts from a centralized-controlled model to a decentralized, customer-centric one, or a hybrid.

As someone wise once said – “Business leaders should not solely look at technology as a way to improve current processes, but more as a way to pivot their business models.” It remains to be seen whether Irish energy providers will see Blockchain as an opportunity and will pro-actively adjust their business model, …or they will perceive it as a threat and try to tighten their grip on the energy market.

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