Beyond Peer-to-Peer Energy Transactions with Blockchain

Blockchain technology will play a key role in the transactive grid of the future. A blockchain is an immutable, distributed, shared ledger that makes it possible for energy and energy-related financial transactions to be securely recorded and settled. Not all blockchains are created equal, however. A blockchain that would be able to support the complex services and interactions fundamental to managing energy grids and markets has very specific requirements related to its consensus and storage models, and services for identity, access control, and contracts.

Before we can define what those requirements are, it’s important to first understand the use cases and applications that the energy blockchain would support.  A report from late 2016 by the German agency, dena, provides a very good overview of several key use cases.  They conducted a survey of German energy executives which provides great insight into how blockchain can and is being used by the energy industry.

This excerpt from the introduction of the report highlights some of the key findings you'll find in the report:
More than half of the 70 respondents have already experimented with Blockchain or plans to do so. 21 percent consider Blockchain a game changer for the energy supply industry. 60 percent of the respondents believe that a further dissemination of the Blockchain is likely, and 14 percent expect niche applications. The survey also covered potential use cases: Around half of the use cases mentioned by respondents are related to process optimization, including billing, sales and marketing, automation, metering and data transfer, mobility, communication, and grid management. The second half is linked to public and private trading platforms, in particular peer-to-peer trade, and decentralized energy generation.
Another great discussion can be found in a report produced by PwC around the same time titled Blockchain – an opportunity for energy producers and consumers?.  As a brief introduction, this excerpt summarizes some of their key points:
Blockchain technology shows a lot of promise. Other than being used to execute energy supply transactions, it could also provide the basis for metering, billing and clearing processes. Other possible areas of application are in the documentation of ownership, the state of assets (asset management), guarantees of origin, emission allowances and renewable energy certificates.
This comprehensive report provides detailed explanations for how blockchains work and how blockchain can be applied to various use cases.  PwC also discusses some of the features certain blockchains have and why they are especially important for an energy blockchain.

These are two good resources for a comprehensive overview of energy blockchain use cases.  In a future post, I'll go into detail to describe the key characteristics of what I see as the most important use cases for the energy industry, and particularly for how distributed energy resources can participate.  I'm thinking beyond the sphere of peer-to-peer energy transactions, which are really popular right now as a first use case for an energy blockchain.  What do you see as the most beneficial or lucrative use cases of blockchain technology to the energy industry?