I attended Electron’s kWhackathon, the energy industries first blockchain hackathon.
Electron use technologies, like blockchain1, to build systems for the energy industry as it moves towards a decentralised, smart grid2 infrastructure. This will play an important role as we transition from fossil fuel energy (one-to-many) to renewable energy (many-to-many). As the grid becomes decentralised the digital systems behind it must also be decentralised, flexible and transparent.
A hackathon was the perfect environment to play with the decentralised systems Electron has been building and how we could integrate them into our own services at Pod Point. Four challenge areas were proposed:
- Integration of new technologies
- Data management and security
- Consumer engagement
- Grid management & balancing
We decided to explore consumer engagement in the Pod Point app. Energy UK recently reported that a record 5.5 million customers switched electricity supplier in 20173. Consumers are starting to consider how much energy they use, how much it costs and how it was generated. None more so than electric vehicle (EV) drivers. Charging an EV at home naturally increases your electricity consumption and costs. Switching to a cheaper or greener supplier can be a smart move to reduce bills or your carbon footprint. Could we use Electron's blockchain to help our customers switch energy supplier directly in our app?
In six hours we were able to build a proof-of-concept app that could display a customers current energy tariff and suggest competitive alternatives. Customers could filter by cheaper or greener tariffs and switch at the tap of a button. Switching is handled entirely by the blockchain and the customer will receive a notification when their switch has been completed.
Electron's technology is incredibly exciting and it wasn't hard to see how it could change the way we manage our utilities in the future. Theoretically you could change your supplier in just a few hours. You could keep costs down by moving to the cheapest tariff each day or you could switch to a green tariff during daytime hours to make the most of solar and wind generation. The implications are great and it will be exciting to see where the energy blockchain leads us in the next few years.
A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the consensus of the network: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain↩︎
A smart grid is an electrical grid which includes a variety of operational and energy measures including smart meters, smart appliances, renewable energy resources, and energy efficient resources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_grid↩︎