Much has been said about Bitcoin‘s carbon emissions. Far less has been said about the potential of blockchain to increase the efficiency of renewables by transparently managing supply and demand. Blockchain doesn‘t pose a threat to the planet — it’s going to play an essential role in helping to bring about a net-zero carbon emission economy.
It is a few years in the future: You are sitting on your sofa, having a nice coffee after loading the washing machine. You’ve switched it on but, of course, the Internet of Things-enabled machine checks prices and will run when it hits a cheap electricity window. The Tesla outside in the drive is fully charged, you don‘t have any plans to go any further than the supermarket today, so the battery is available to sell its energy back to the grid and deposit tokens in your energy wallet if the electricity grid requires power.
Back to today.
Energy and electricity, in particular, are vital to our society. The grim effects on Texas in the 2021 freeze — where more than 4.5 million homes and businesses were left in the icy dark, causing misery and 246 deaths — showed us how vulnerable all our systems are to trouble with the electricity supply.
Blockchain is an essential part of turning the power grid green.
In 1882, the first U.S. electricity plant, the Pearl Street Station, started producing power for around 85 customers‘ lights in Manhattan, using DC current. Westinghouse, a rival to Thomas Edison’s company, invented AC power and built a big hydropower plant at Niagara Falls to supply electricity to Buffalo, NY. Other developed countries followed suit. The model was a large centralized power plant that, through a grid, sent high voltage electricity to substations and distributed it to residential and business consumers.
This model worked well for more than a century or so. It does, however, rely on large, expensive and centralized power stations fueled by coal, natural gas, hydro or nuclear. It‘s a top-down structure.
Now we have a new…