Elia Innovation

Blockchain: enabling the energy transition

With the increasingly distributed energy landscape caused by individual consumers becoming prosumers, generating energy via PV panels and reselling it to the grid, it is extremely important to create an affordable way to handle the transactions created by all these smaller players. With this in mind, Elia and the Energy Web Foundation (EWF) began experimenting with the blockchain.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a distributed, digital transaction technology that makes it possible to securely store data and execute smart contracts in peer-to-peer networks. This is a game changer, as participants can enter into transactions without having to trust that particular intermediary. The financial sector was the first sector to take an interest in the technology, but recent developments have broadened the scope of blockchain making it interesting to other industries. In fact, the blockchain could radically change energy as we know it.

The future of blockchain

Blockchain technology has the potential to reduce transaction costs in the energy sector, enable active participation by a larger number of market participants (consumers and devices) and, consequently, accelerate the transition towards a cleaner, more resilient and more cost-effective system.

The project will allow Elia to be a frontrunner in this technology and influence its development in the energy sector.

 

Quotes

“If blockchain delivers on its promises, it could change the way business is done in the energy sector. By allowing citizens to transact with each other, blockchain could well be the enabler of the energy transition.”

Adrien Gillès, Innovation Project Leader

“With the advent of smartmeters and consumers turning into prosumers, the digital interactions between market actors (transactions, contracts) will significantly increase. Blockchain has the potential to be a technology carrier fastening this  evolution. As market facilitator, ELIA needs to investigate to what extent we can benefit from this technology in our current market processes and to anticipate future business models in the energy market.”

Hans Vandenbroucke, Head of Belgian Market Model

Blockchain as a solution

What does the future hold for the energy landscape?

  • Growing numbers of small, scattered units;
  • Consumers becoming prosumers as they generate energy via their PV panels and resell it to the grid;
  • Electric vehicles that can store electricity; and
  • Increased dependence on greener energy, which is more variable and requires greater flexibility.

This means that the grid of the future will probably have many more smaller market players with more real-time (or near real-time) transactions. How can we solve this challenge in an affordable way?

Blockchain could well be the solution. It is a distributed, digital transaction technology that makes it possible to securely store data and execute smart contracts in peer-to-peer networks, enabling the energy transition.

And that’s why it’s being tested at Elia.