The Blockchain promises to deliver a decentralized energy system that can seamlessly incorporate the large companies providing energy to millions, the small businesses hoping to get into the market, and the individual user with excess energy to sell off.

How Blockchain and Other Online Innovations Help Alternative Energy
How Blockchain and Other Online Innovations Help Alternative Energy

Adrian Johansen

In the age of technological advances, it can seem like some new technology is vying to make a major difference in the world every single day. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming and difficult to know which technologies to take seriously and which ones will go the way of fireworks - beautiful for a minute but quickly fading into nothing. Especially within the alternative energy world, it can be challenging to determine what is likely to be the next big thing.

One of the most encouraging technologies is blockchain. The new tech promises to deliver a decentralized energy system that can seamlessly incorporate the large companies providing energy to millions, the small businesses hoping to get into the market, and the individual user with excess energy to sell off. Almost too good to be true, right?

Fortunately, that’s not the case - blockchain is real and likely coming to a market near you in the coming decades. As kinks are worked out and it slowly becomes more incorporated into our daily lives, blockchain has the potential to promote the use of alternative energy and may just provide a clear path forward. 


What is Blockchain?

Blockchain isn’t exactly the easiest concept to grasp unless you are deeply entrenched in all things technology. Blockchain is essentially an online register that can only write new information. Old transaction information is stored in ‘blocks’ that cannot be edited. These blocks stack on top of each other to form chains of trackable ledger information - hence blockchains. 

The information is decentralized, meaning that there is no one corporation or industry leader that is controlling the ledger. In order to add a block transaction to the ledger, multiple computers use a form of data logging that helps to make sure the data cannot be altered by anyone else, making it extremely hard to hack. Decentralization and manipulation prevention encourages an environment of sharing and transparency that can greatly benefit the alternative energy marketplace. 

Of course, blockchain isn’t just for renewable energy though. In fact, that may be one of the newer ways it is being used. The technology has already been making a major impact in other industries such as healthcare, marketing, finance, cryptocurrencies, and supply chain operations. In each industry, blockchain is increasing efficiency and promoting a greater degree of transparency that enables consumers to make more informed decisions without risking their information security. 


Direct Benefits of Blockchain

Perhaps the biggest benefit that the alternative energy industry stands to gain from adopting a blockchain technology platform is greater exposure and the ability to connect directly with customers. Because of its secure, transparent data setup, blockchain enables customers to have total control over where they source their energy. If they want to purchase excess energy from their neighbor they can; if they want to support a local solar company with their energy dollars it’s that easy. 

Price points are also able to easily fluctuate throughout the day depending upon supply and demand. For instance, solar power may be produced in greater abundance during the day so its price point is lower then, while nuclear picks up the slack at night, making it the cheapest option. For consumers, it could feel almost like a more complex Uber where prices may go up or down in real-time depending upon supply and demand for drivers. 

A number of small companies are already integrating blockchain with quite a bit of success. For instance, the country of Estonia already has a digital grid that made blockchain an easy jump. The technology has made it easier for smaller companies to enter and compete in the marketplace and gives consumers a greater ability to control and diversify their energy sources. Furthermore, it places a real cost on alternative versus fossil fuels-based energy which has encouraged greater adoption of alternative options. 


Indirect Benefits

Beyond the direct benefits of incorporating blockchain into the energy system, there are quite a few indirect benefits that also stand to improve our lives and the quality of the environment. Arguably one of the most obvious ones is a reduction in paper since blockchain takes place completely on the grid. Reducing paper use by scanning documents, transferring data online, or never having information offline in the first place is a great way to reduce carbon footprints. 

As previously mentioned, blockchain is incredibly difficult to hack making it challenging to forge transactions, change transaction information, or redirect funds. Overall, this provides powerful power grid infrastructure and national security from foreign and domestic threats alike. It also enables consumers to adapt quickly if certain energy grids are knocked out by natural disasters/some other accident or are down for maintenance. 

Finally, blockchain increases our ability to live more sustainable lives. Primarily, it promotes the use of alternative energies in ways that reduce the distance energy has to travel to reach a home. It can also encourage consumers to reduce their need for energy as they have greater control over what type and how much of a certain energy source is coming in. It isn’t just a monthly bill with limited breakdown of costs anymore. 

Blockchain technology stands to make a profound difference in our lives in nearly every industry it touches. Within the alternative energy world, the tech has the potential to increase alternative energy usage and provide opportunities for smaller companies to compete. Likewise, it allows individuals to sell excess energy easily and gives consumers greater control over their personal energy choices which can increase the diversification of our energy system and drive prices down.



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The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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