The decentralization of clean technologies, from rooftop solar to electric vehicles, has created the ideal environment for blockchain to achieve solutions in clean energy. As the world looks for cleaner air and reduced emissions like Switzerland, blockchain will only become more valuable to balance individual data privacy with the analytics required to maintain fairly priced, reliable energy.
SwissCognitive Guest Blogger: Colin Gounden, CEO of VIA
When most people think of blockchain, they think financial transactions. While crypto and tokens garner the lion’s share of news, blockchain, and in particular smart contracts and more recent Web3 innovations, are becoming an indispensable part of the world’s transition to clean energy.
In a way, energy has evolved to become more adaptable to working with blockchain. Decentralization is at the core of Web3 and blockchain technologies – there are many players, in many locations, who interact but aren’t centrally controlled.
As keen followers of energy and clean technologies will know, the last five years has seen an exponential increase in the decentralization of power. Rooftop solar means electricity can be generated by anyone. Electric vehicles mean that a significant amount of electricity can be consumed “on the go” and even given back to the grid when needed.
Where energy flows, data follows. Data is a requirement to maintain the reliability of power flowing to homes and vehicles at a fair cost. The other macro trend is a rise in concern for data privacy. AI to predict power consumption, power generation, and flexibility for energy requires individual, location, and time-based data.
As companies worked with Web2 to capture and store data related to energy, data breaches unfolded one-by-one, causing increased concern among consumers. More recently, from our conversation with power companies in Switzerland, utilities saw cyber attacks increase tenfold as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine escalated.
With all of this as a backdrop, blockchain is enabling privacy-protected analyses by using smart contracts to control what data can be analyzed and by whom. There are mundane (but critical) analyses such as: is this power produced from clean energy sources? How much power was consumed yesterday? What was the peak power consumed by this customer last year? There are also more advanced, AI-driven analyses such as: What will be the peak power consumption next week? Which customer has the most flexibility for power consumption tomorrow?
Blockchain’s specific applications to the energy sector come in a variety of forms. At VIA, we are working with the world’s largest battery storage, power transformer, and demand response companies on blockchain applications. The common denominator is tracking the data related to energy. The data is now owned by consumers, not utilities, increasing the need for data privacy and reducing cybersecurity risks. This is a perfect Web3 / blockchain use case. Similar uses can be found by various companies all across the world.
A prime case study on the role that blockchain can play in clean energy comes from Switzerland. The country has some of the strongest climate aspirations in the world, with the ultimate goal being net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Today, approximately 53% of the electricity is produced by fully renewable hydroelectric power plants. Two examples of blockchain in Switzerland today are: electric vehicle to grid integration and data privacy from smart meter data collection. Smart meter analysis can have a substantial impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With a population already deeply familiar with direct democracy and federated decision making, Switzerland is an ideal location to test these kinds of integrated, yet decentralized technologies.
As citizens everywhere call for cleaner air and carbon emission reductions, blockchain will only become more valuable to balance individual data privacy with the analytics required to maintain fairly priced, reliable energy. Switzerland provides a case study for the rest of the world to apply the uses of blockchain to move forward. The combination of strong data privacy regulations, a national commitment to clean energy, and a regulatory commitment to blockchain make it a perfect environment to demonstrate secure AI to the rest of the world.
About the Author:
Colin Gounden, is CEO and co-founder of VIA, having recruited the top 20 global utilities and the U.S. Department of Defense as co-developers and now major users of VIA’s Trusted Analytics Chain™ (TAC™), a data privacy-enhancing blockchain-based platform. With seven patents issued and nine pending, TAC™ is the bridge that securely connects infrastructure data, distributed across many locations, to AI solutions. Previously, Colin was the first investor and board director of five MIT and Harvard spinouts, focused on energy and deep science technologies