Within the energy sector, the use of blockchain technology is emerging as a key strategy and focus area for industry modernization. Blockchain provides a platform for managing and transacting high-value data as a distributed ledger technology (DLT). However, unlike other DLTs, blockchain is untrustworthy, requiring no intermediaries and thus providing the potential for catalyzing existing business processes as well as reducing the overhead costs and complexity level embedded in the current energy ecosystem. For the energy sector, the use of blockchain technology to optimize existing energy sector practices through asset traceability applications and other technology upgrades in the background are obvious choices. It's not going to be surprising that such applications will soon appear on the horizon. The open question about blockchain is, can it revolutionize the consumption and receipt of electricity by residential consumers?
Blockchain has the ability to allow new methods to manage how energy is distributed, accounted for and safeguarded in the utility sector. For example, with direct peer-to-peer (P2P) interaction between assets or participants, microgrids could become more resilient. P2P allows smart electronic devices to share information without a centralized system effectively. Global utilities are testing blockchain's potential to generate new business models based on microtransactions facilitated by the ability of blockchain to build trust between unknown peers. These disintermediated transactions create opportunities to accelerate economic growth by slipping over a need to establish large-scale centralized facilities to track asset-related events or commodity-related transactions and process payments.
For a digital business, one possible industry vision is for utilities to be an energy sharing economy platform provider. The provider can use a permitted ledger-based blockchain in this centralized model platform to track micro-energy transactions and orchestrate financial settlement.
Even though the acceptance of blockchain is in the very initial stages, there is still strong evidence that this technology will gradually be used in a variety of ways. Blockchain will gain significant traction in the utility sector with its promise to transform transaction flows, new ways to manage and operate distributed assets and operations. Instead of looking at how blockchain can make incremental change possible, utilities should discuss how blockchain can make a contribution to the creation of utility business ecosystems by investigating the distributed ledger's role in creating a trusted business environment.
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