So far it is not possible to estimate the future impact and business models of Blockchain technology. On March 30 2017 two EXXETA colleagues traveled to Frankfurt/ Main to attend the BDEW Forum “Blockchain – an opportunity for the energy industry” to discuss with other participants on viable business models with the Blockchain technology in the energy industry.
As an introduction to the first part of the forum Simon Albrecht from the Institute for Energy Economics at Fresenius University gave a brief outline of the Blockchain technology and presented the first results of the BDEW study. So far, scientific publications on Blockchain are missing in the energy industry. At the moment the university is working with the BDEW on the study “Blockchain: Between concept study and market maturity” in which current use cases are identified by means of 24 interview partners in order to derive general potentials for the energy industry. The study is aimed at German utility companies and is intended to answer specific questions about the new technology. A publication of the BDEW study is planned for May 2017.
A presentation on “Legal Conditions for the Use of Blockchain and Smart Contracts” followed. The attorneys Dr. Moßdorf and Dr. Lange-Hausstein explained the legal influence of Blockchain applications on civil law, data protection and energy law. According to civil law Smart Contracts as a diffuse legal entity are new to the legal system. The technology has supporting and obstructive aspects for compliance with data protection law. The use of pseudonyms/ cryptographic Hashs ensures that the data protection is guaranteed by Privacy by Design and Privacy by Default. However it is an obstacle that the claim to information and the right of objection cannot be guaranteed or enforced by a missing opponent. In addition the “right to forget” or the right to delete the transaction history is not guaranteed. Regarding energy law it can be summarized that for physical reasons no 180° turn is possible. However in the future regulation would have to adapt more closely to the technology, not the technology to the regulation.
After the presentations followed the presentation of current use cases of the Blockchain technology. The presentations were particularly exciting as the practical examples all focus on the German energy market. The applications differ significantly, either the business models are still in an early conception phase, or the first successful use cases have already been presented.
- Oursolargrid: The goal is to provide a platform for decentralized solar power, in which local producers and consumers are conntected.
- BlockCharge: An automated charging and billing model using Blockchain is designed to simplify the future of electric mobility. At the moment Innogy is working with European suppliers and charging stations to create a European network for e-cars using Blockchain with the project “From Oslo2Rome”.
- Enerchain: Already on 5 November 2016 Enerchain was able to use Blockchain in the first European energy trade. In the future, admission, transaction or clearing fees can be saved.
- Enercity: Stadtwerke Hannover allows the payment of bills with bitcoins. It is honestly reported that this is more a marketing topic than an innovative Blockchain application. The introduction of the digital payment attracted significant media attention.
- Rheinlandstrom: The regional and green energy model based on Blockchain is intended to make regional electricity directly visible to the consumer and to better market neighbourhood electricity.
In the second part of the BDEW Forum there was the opportunity to discuss with other participants and experts in World Cafés. At eight roundtables various questions were discussed along the energy value creation stages and applications beyond. For example:
- Decentralized generation: How can decentralized energy generation be optimized using Blockchain?
- P2P trading: risk or opportunity for urban development?
- Grids: How can Blockchain help to ensure that network expansion is not oversized?
- Billing: Which billing processes are suitable for the Blockchain?
The discussions provided food for thoughts and new impulses for future developments of business models based on Blockchain. In the long term EXXETA will be kept up-to-date on the latest developments in Blockchain technology and its applications. EXXETA works across the fields of Energy, Automotive, Financial Services and Transport & Logistics in innovative Blockchain applications and helps companies develop a digitalization strategy.