Blockchain meets Energy: Building the Community

Jules Besnainou

For followers of our At the Cutting Edge subscriber research, the promise of using blockchain technology to improve distributed energy, IoT and logistics is nothing new.

In fact, throughout 2016, you have observed organizations like LO3, Filament and Grid Singularity enter strategic partnership with large enterprises, deploy pilots and make the headlines. Here is our deal timeline for the year:

Blockchain Timeline

Leveraging blockchain technology in exchanges of electrons and data makes sense. It’s great at securely processing transactions and registering ownership, meaning lower costs and increased transparency. It also allows users to enter smart contracts, potentially enabling prosumers to automate their electricity sales and purchases. Similar benefits apply in IoT, where an increasing number of devices need to communicate with each other, and using decentralized networks could prove more secure, reliable and affordable.

For all its promise, the intersection of blockchain and energy is in its early days. Applications in microgrids require more pilots to prove that blockchain-based exchanges could work at larger scales. Also needed is further early-stage funding to support companies as they iterate on their revenue models.

In our many interactions with corporate and venture capitalists, we have encountered high levels of interest, mixed with words of caution. As with every new technology, especially in energy, it takes time – and the right encounters – to build understanding, trust and mutual interest between the different types of stakeholders – academics, start-ups, financial investors and strategics. In short, a community needs to be built around the new opportunity.

In 2017, Cleantech Group will aim to contribute to building this community. For us, this starts next week at Cleantech Forum San Francisco. On January 25th, Micah Winkelspecht, CEO of Gem, and Joe Madden, CEO of Xpansiv Data, will give a dual presentation on blockchain and potential use cases in energy. Later that day, EDF and Cleantech Group will co-host an invite-only roundtable gathering top utilities, industrials, investors and innovators to discuss progress in the field, and what to look for in the next couple of years. Expect us to update you soon with some of the insights shared there.

Next month, CTG will participate in partner event EventHorizon, the first global summit on blockchain and energy, in Vienna, Austria (February 14-15, 2017). There, we’ll hear from the brightest minds in the industry, including Vitalik Buterin, and Dr. Gavin Woods. We will take this opportunity to share our views on the state of the market, and will have the privilege to moderate a morning of pitches from emerging leaders in the field, including LO3, Slock.it, Grid Singularity, Consensys and more.  We hope to see some of you there.

Later in the year, we will aim to gather the nascent community once more – watch this space.

If the intersection of blockchain and energy is a topic of interest to you, and you wish to hear more, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

Cleantech Forum San Francisco will take place on January 23-25, more information and registration here. As a CTG Connect member, you have access to a 10% discount on partner event EventHorizon in Vienna. Email me at jules.besnainou@cleantech.com to claim it.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookEmail this to someone