The advent of blockchain technology in recent years has led to many to ask how this technology can help tackle climate change.
A new research paper aims to answer this question, giving insights into how blockchain can help combat global warming by bringing us into the future of clean energy. The report, titled, ‘The 3Ds of Energy: Decarbonization, Digitization, and Decentralization’, makes a compelling case for blockchain-based grid systems and carbon emissions. It suggests blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the three critical technologies that will help create a grid for the future—which in turn will help prevent climate change.
How blockchain can combat climate change
According to the paper’s authors, blockchain’s properties such as immutability and provenance can be used to manage and protect energy grids from cyber-attacks and tampering. Identities could be managed securely on the blockchain, ensuring that there’s no unauthorized access to the database.
The report, which was published by venture capital firm Outlier Ventures, also suggests using smart contracts to speed up and automate complex transactions securely and effectively. Because of the structured nature of blockchain networks, the technology can provide traceability and scalability needed to mitigate and prevent the worse effects of climate change.
For instance, combining blockchain with transactive energy applications makes it possible to transition to a decentralized, democratized, decarbonized, and resilient energy systems. As a result, we can reduce over-reliance on carbon-based energy sources.
Energy Web Foundation
One promising project that is currently working to promote blockchain in the energy sector is the Energy Web Foundation (EWF). EWF is a global non-profit organization that boasts a broad range of partners, including Siemens, Centrica, Exelon, Duke Energy, PG&E, Shell, among others. Its scalable open source platform blockchain platform is specifically built for the energy sector, allowing businesses to build and deploy their own energy solutions.
Energy Web Foundation COO Walter Kok said:
“With blockchain in energy, one of the big potential shifts is from value primarily accruing to relatively few big players such as utilities to a scenario in which many smaller players—down to individual consumers—can become active participants in a much more decentralized market.”
Applying AI and IoT in the power grid
In addition to blockchain, the authors of the paper also suggest a new framework called The Convergence Stack which they say should be implemented to power grids. This stack relies on three phases of implementation.
The first phase involves connecting the grid to an IoT network to monitor the environment. To achieve this goal, sensors are connected to wind turbines and solar panels which in turn send back status reports across the network. Based on these reports, the solar panels and wind power can then be automatically adjusted to match the grid demand. As for the second phase, blockchain technology implementation ensures that this data is traceable, credible and secure.
Finally, AI implementation in the last phase allows for efficient management of the grid since AI is capable of “learning” how efficient the system is by looking at certain factors. With these insights at hand, the grid can be optimized in real-time.
The paper’s authors also note that Google’s DeepMind project was able to increase the value of energy by 20% just from using wind turbine and weather data alone. Had it used distributed ledger technology, it could have immensely accelerated the process. Projects like these can help improve grid efficiency, allowing suppliers to better integrate renewable resources into national grids and reduce waste.