Bitcoin, blockchain technology and the Internet of Things are dramatically disrupting every industry sector. They’re especially disrupting the energy and utility sector, including the solar energy trading market. Coincidentally, solar energy prices continue to decline, bringing spectacular new business opportunities while protecting the environment.
Solar Energy Boom and the Energy Regulatory Environment
Several factors are contributing to the boom in renewable energy production. These include generation costs, new investments, and U.S. state regulations.
Also, Fortune asserted, “Investors in wind and solar power are getting more capacity for their money as the cost of the technology tumbles, making alternatives to fossil fuel more competitive.”
General Electric said since 2010, the cost of solar implementations has dropped 60 percent.
Apple, Amazon, and Google are also now heavily investing in renewable energy. According to the BBC, Google said “it wants to map ‘the planet’s solar potential’ – the data from these panels, including their uptake, could inform future energy strategies.”
Trading Renewable energy certificates (RECs)
Moreover, several U.S. states have adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard. This mandates the increased production of energy from wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy certificates (RECs) represent proof that one megawatt-hour of electricity was generated from a renewable energy resource and was put into the power lines that transport energy, or the power grid. RECs are also tradable commodities.
Therefore, besides state and federal incentives, solar or clean energy system owners can recover their investment by selling RECs on the spot market.
SolarCoin is another means to stimulate solar energy producers. According to the SolarCoin Foundation, “SolarCoin is a complementary currency using Bitcoin technology implemented to incentivize global solar electricity generation over the next 40 years.”
You can get SolarCoins by submitting a proof of solar electricity generation. For each one MWh generated you get a §1 SLR coin.
Blockchain and IoT are Driving Solar Generation and Distribution
Millions of interconnected smart devices in the Internet of Things (IoT), combined with blockchain technology, allow the design and implementation of amazing applications for power production, decentralized power distribution, and solar energy trading.
For example, IDEO CoLab is using blockchain technology and the IoT, to build an “Internet-Connected Solar Panel.”
Collaborating with Nasdaq and the startup Filament, IDEO Colab recently “built a proof of concept solar panel kit that automatically creates renewable energy certificates as it generates power.”
Filament technology involves wireless sensor packages, or taps, to allow smart devices to discover, communicate, and autonomously interact with each other, in the IoT universe. These intelligent devices are capable of exchanging value among themselves, such as Bitcoin currency, data, and network access.
Smart contracts govern the transactions that these smart-devices automatically execute.
Filament has also developed applications for power grids, which are particularly relevant in remote locations where connectivity is intermittent or not available. For example, electrical poles or other elements of a power grid become smart devices. As such, they can monitor themselves, report their status to other devices, and trigger repair actions, without human intervention.
Blockchain-based Solar Energy Trading
Thanks to Bitcoin and blockchain technology, peer-to-peer (P2P) trading of solar energy is now possible. For example, EcoCoin designed a blockchain-based platform to allow P2P trading of solar and other renewable assets. As a result, the EcoCoin team won the 2016 International Energy Hackathon.
“We built a blockchain technology for the energy market for people to have a marketplace to buy and sell energy and then visualize their consumption and production and make decisions based on that,” explained Brendon Gails, one of the members of the EcoCoin team.
Specifically, LO3 Energy and ConsenSys are using blockchain technology and smart contracts to develop the community energy market TransActive Grid. This energy market facilitates P2P exchanges to enable community members to trade energy, securely, and automatically. According to TransActive, “Home energy producers can sell their surplus to their neighbors, and communities can keep energy resources local, reducing dissipation and increasing micro and macro grid efficiency.”
Paying Energy Bills with Bitcoins
Bitcoin is also increasingly welcome in the utilities industry. In several countries, utility companies now allow their costumers to pay their bills in Bitcoin.
Germany’s Enercity, one of the ten biggest energy suppliers, already accepts Bitcoin utility bill payments.
Then in Australia, Living Room of Satoshi facilitates customers’ utility and government bill payments with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin and its blockchain technology, in conjunction with the IoT and other Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, will continue to fuel innovation, creating previously unimaginable solutions. The sky is the limit. These new solutions will make the generation, consumption, and trading of solar and other renewable sources of energy more efficient, less expensive, and more environmentally friendly.
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