If the experience gained with blockchains in the financial sector are applied to the energy context, blockchain technology appears capable of enabling a decentralised energy supply system. It may be possible to radically simplify today’s multi-tiered system, in which power producers, transmission system operators, distribution system operators and suppliers transact on various levels, by directly linking producers with consumers, provided we manage to adjust the way the networks are controlled so as to reflect the new requirements.
• Billing: Blockchains, smart contracts and smart metering can realize automated billing for consumers and distributed generator. Utility companies might benefit from the potential for energy micropayments, pay-as-you-go solutions or payment platforms for prepaid meters.
• Sales and marketing: Sales practices may change according to consumers’ energy profile, individual preferences and environmental concerns. Blockchains, in combination with artificial intelligence (AI) techniques such as machine learning (ML), can identify consumer energy patterns and therefore enable tailored and value added energy products provision.
• Automation: Blockchains could improve control of decentralised energy systems and microgrids. Adoption of local energy marketplaces enabled by localised P2P energy trading or distributed platforms can significantly increase energy self-production and selfconsumption, also known as behind the meter activities, which can potentially affect revenues and tariffs.
• Smart grid applications and data transfer: Blockchains can be used for communication of smart devices, data transmission or storage. Intelligent devices in the smart grid include smart meters, advanced sensors, network monitoring equipment, control and energy management systems, but also smart home energy controllers and building monitoring systems. In addition to providing secure data transfer, smart grid applications can further benefit from data standardization enabled by blockchain technology.
• Grid management: Blockchains will assist in network management of decentralised networks, flexibility services or asset management. Blockchains can achieve integrated flexibility trading platforms and optimize flexible resources, which might otherwise lead to expensive network upgrades. As a result, blockchains might also affect revenues and tariffs for network use.
• Security and identity management: Protection of transactions and security can benefit from cryptographic techniques. Blockchain could safeguard privacy, data confidentiality and identity management.
• Sharing of resources: Blockchains can offer charging solutions for sharing resources between multiple users, such as sharing EV charging infrastructure, data or common centralized community storage.
• Competition: Smart contracts could potentially simplify and speed up switching of energy suppliers. Enhanced mobility in the market could increase competition and potentially reduce energy tariffs.
• Transparency: Immutable records and transparent processes can significantly improve auditing and regulatory compliance.
All these applications are designed to interconnect prosumers and/or provide a direct link between energy suppliers and energy consumers. Blockchain technology may thus pave the way for a further decentralisation of energy systems.