Elia Innovation

The Context

The uptake of intermittent renewables and the gradual disappearance of traditional sources of flexibility are forcing Elia to enter into relations with new and decentralized flexibility actors to guarantee that the Belgian electricity grid remains balanced. The growing number of market participants is opening up many opportunities, but also creating challenges, such as the dramatic increase in the number of multiparty transactions. Elia is then looking for a smart and efficient way to integrate these new actors, called prosumers, into the equation of the energy system.

Concidering its interesting caracteristics, blockchain could fit the challenge.

A decentralized technology

As we explained here, Blockchain is a distributed, digital transaction technology that enables secure data storage and makes it possible to execute smart contracts in peer-to-peer networks. Its intrinsic characteristics (it is unalterable, transparent and secure) also make it easier to automate contract execution.

Since the technology’s capabilities are steadily expanding all the time, blockchain and smart contracts could help to manage multiple sources of flexibility automatically. In future, this technology could profoundly change how the energy sector operates by being applied to different levels of the market (short-term requirements, ancillary services, and so on).

The pilot project

The aim of the current pilot project is to test blockchain’s suitability for automating a number of processes related to activating flexibility. The processes under scrutiny include validating contractual links between Elia and the participating actors, recording and validating assets’ metering data and settling the associated financial operations. To this end, together with its partners Actility and SettleMint, Elia intends to develop a decentralised flexibility management app based on blockchain and developed by the Energy Web Foundation, of which Elia is an affiliate.

For the purposes of the trial, Elia and Actility will perform multiple simulations to understand how blockchain technology works and also test its limits. Among the various hypotheses to be tested, Elia will seek to understand the extent to which blockchain can serve for the widespread use of decentralised flexibility and how it can accelerate and simplify activation processes and make them more transparent.

If this pilot project proves successful, it will constitute a major step forward towards a Belgian electricity grid rich in clean, decentralised, national energy resources. Elia hopes that introducing a new technology such as blockchain will both facilitate the sector’s adaptation and change the market.

The pilot project, conducted together with SettleMint and Actility, will last 3 months.

The partners

Actility Actility is a unique technology company that provides IoT infrastructure solutions and intelligent smart energy solutions. It is also a leading player in the flexibility market, involved in grid-balancing services in several countries.
Settlemint Settlemint is a European leader in blockchain technology. Its aim is to bridge the gap between businesses’ capabilities and their desire to use blockchain to innovate in a rapidly changing world.
Actility and SettleMint have formed a partnership to pool their expertise in energy and blockchain technology. This partnership is helping them understand the role played by each stakeholder in Elia’s pilot project.
EWF Energy Web is an open-source, scalable blockchain platform specifically designed for the energy sector’s regulatory, operational and market needs. It serves as a foundational, shared, digital infrastructure for the energy and blockchain community to build and run their solutions. Elia is a founder member of the EWF.

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