Blockchain is fun... but what's next for energy?!

A project log for InternetS of Energy - Call me DAISEE

Decentralized Autonomous Interconnected Systems for Energy Efficiency - A blockchain based energy DAO

Rieul Techer 10/02/2016 at 14:520 Comments

Today the blockchain trend looks a bit like that:

Blockchain technologies are interested to think transparent and secured peer-to-peer distribution in sectors where a limited amount of middle-men takes the large majority of the room. To put it in a more practical way:

To be a bit provocative, we would then say that blockchains as blockchain won't revolutionize anything. What's interesting however, and ground for potential revolution, is the spirit and the potential of hybridization and interoperation with other technologies, and appropriation by sectors and communities that are "outside-the-blockchain-box" of blockchain.

What are we capable of doing with blockchain technologies at our scale ?

From now on, in our case, the blockchain technology that we use (local private Ethereum blockchain) makes it possible to automate virtual electricity transactions between peers based on a algorithm ("smart-contract" that have nothing such as smart nor contract) on a 4-nodes distributed, transparent and "secured" database. We are also capable of making physical effective electricity transactions from the required producer to the necessitated consumer: switching based on the actual transaction switch operated by the "smart-contract" that triggers from which producer the calling consumer buys its electricity.

And what are the limitation that we came across while applying it to the energy sector ?

Please note that those limitations might have been overcome by other people. However, for the moment we do not have enough details in our hands to assure that those have been effectively overcome.

Here we'll try to spot the main limitations of the blockchain technologies applied, in our case, to the energy sector :

Consequently, there are currently strong limitations to the use of blockchain technologies, taken alone, for making scalable distributed peer-to-peer electricity exchange and transaction. However, blockchain technologies are strongly good bases to start working on such a system.

That's what we've achieve during those past 5 month : to define the relevance of the use of blockchain technologies in the energy sector to build the conditions that favor transparent, secured, pseudonymous peer-to-peer electricity transaction; and, if not completely relevant, what are the ways we need to work to answer the issues we are facing. We've also achieve strong community federation around the DIASEE program.

We've still got more questions than answers, since in any exploration phase you experiment things that few or none have tried or worked out. We are convinced that we've build strong expertise on blockchain technologies and it's time to explore the hybridization of the technology with other emerging technologies that could answer our current and possible future issues.

So what's next and how do we see a workable distributed peer-to-peer electricity exchange/transaction system ?

A workable distributed peer-to-peer electricity transaction system won't be a blockchain-energy system; it would probably be a blockchain-IPFS-BigChainBD like system.

However, other solutions are emerging such as Proof of Stake (PoS) or lightning process (off-chain transaction and validation processes) helping to leverage the current blockchain barriers.

Given the current limitations of the main blockchain technologies with regards to the energy sector, it would be interesting to work on :

Why are those questions relevant ?

Today, we hardly see a workable distributed peer-to-peer electricity exchange / transaction system without current large stakeholders, like energy producers, grids operators, local governments... we also hardly see its development without a data operator. And last of all, we do not see it without the ones who consume the energy.

As a result, we will carry on working on the 3 levels of the DAISEE program:

What are the next steps for the future development of DAISEE with the DAISEE team, and what will we do and need after the hackaday challenge (if we're top finalist and if we're not...) ?

The hackaday prize challenge clearly gave us a line to prototype and test the technical development of part of the DAISEE program. It has been a great experience we will carry on wether or not we're top finalist.

However, not only the prize but also the incubation potential would clearly help to accelerate the project and put it a another scale. In any case, the hackaday community expertises and skills potential is huge; As we tend to bet more on people than money, we will carry on seeking for contributors who share the core vision and values, and challenge the developments!

The next big step for us is to transform a deal for experimenting in territories in real-usage conditions with either local governments or companies, or both. It would help accelerating R&D development in a process of research-action experimentation program, that may transform into a viable pilote.

Here is ours now : carrying the development while building an ecosystem for it. Now that we have a working draft prototype, let's build a fully functional prototype by the end of the year, work it through the real-life experience at the beginning of next year and finalize an operational and scalable system by the second half of next year!

Well... the future is ours, with you onboard it would be far more impacting.