Elia Group and Energy Web (EW) are to partner in a multi-year strategy. This will focus on testing and validating the technological promises of enterprise-grade, blockchain-based solutions for supporting the energy markets Elia Group – as an electricity transmission system operator (TSO) – serves through its subsidiaries Elia (Belgium) and 50Hertz (Germany). These manage and operate transmission grid infrastructure so as to supply reliable electricity to >30M customers.
The Energy Web Decentralized Operating System (EW-DOS) will form the technological backbone for the partnership. This is an open-source stack of decentralised digital technologies, including the Energy Web Chain.
“A consumer-centric system is a desired outcome of the energy transition,” said Kai Schmied, Elia Group Innovation Manager. “It is our societal duty to work with all market parties in order to operate the system with lowest costs and to put in place the building blocks that will bring the benefits of the energy transition to the consumer. The development of capabilities in DLT or other digital technologies will allow all participants to manage the complexities of decentralized flexibility while delivering more value and comfort for consumers.”
The Elia Group/Energy Web combination
In 2019, European renewable energy demand surpassed 500TWh, totalling more than half a billion guarantees of origin (GO). Elia Group and EW see the logging, the creation, ownership, and retirement of GOs with distributed ledger technology (DLT) as becoming more important as consumers seek green energy.
This means applying near a real time principle in order to guarantee an effective match between green production and consumption. This could apply not only to energy but also to services delivered by a TSO – which could, then, benefit from green tracking.
To further this, EW and Elia Group will work together on multiple fronts, including:
- understanding the potential of decentralised identifiers (DIDs) within a more-decentralized electricity system
- improving the tracking of green energy and services
DIDs help overcome the challenges of market and software silos when integrating the electricity and mobility sectors. DIDs also help streamline asset registry management for distributed energy resources (DERs). These are making up a bigger and bigger portion of Europe’s power grid.
“We believe that public digital infrastructure is as integral as physical infrastructure when it comes to the future of power grids around the world,” added Jesse Morris, CCO of Energy Web. “We are proud to partner with such a progressive, forward-looking system operator as Elia Group and we look forward to working with them over the coming years to not only develop new solutions, but grow a consortium of market participants around the open technology stack.”
Providing technical expertise and support for Elia Group’s new DLT Lab
As a founding member of Energy Web, Elia Group’s innovation arm has explored blockchain’s potential in the energy sector. Activities have included:
- conducting a 2018 proof-of-concept on the Energy Web Chain test network
- hosting an EW Chain validator node (after the chain’s launch in June 2019).
Now EW will support Elia Group’s new DLT Lab. This will seek further advances in Elia Group’s blockchain domain expertise and internal capabilities. The Elia Group and EW teams are currently designing the first project. Likely to focus on leveraging electric vehicles and charging stations in operating reserves and frequency response markets, they are hoping to unveil the results in 2021.
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
Elia Group, as one of Europe’s top 5 TSOs, must ensure that production and consumption balanced around the clock – supplying millions of end users. Across its Belgian and German subsidiaries, it develops, maintains and operates >19K kilometres of high-voltage lines. It also, by its own admission and actions with EW, aspires to enable a successful energy transition towards a sustainable, decarbonised energy system which is reliable and affordable. This means it must innovate across its operational systems so that new technologies and market parties can access our grid if the energy transition is to happen. Hence the interest in blockchain.
Energy Web is a different beast. It is a member-driven non-profit aiming to accelerate low-carbon, customer-centric electricity systems via blockchain and decentralised technologies. To this end EW has its own (open-source) decentralised digital technology stack — what it calls EW-DOS. Its objective is to enable any device, owned by any customer to participate in any energy market.
In mid-2019, EW launched the Energy Web Chain. The EW Chain anchors a blockchain-plus suite of middleware, toolkits, and other digital solutions. This has also attracted the interest of more than 20 others (for example, Vodafone) which host validator nodes for the EW Chain. Energy Web has become, it believes, the industry’s leading energy blockchain partner and has become a respected authority in energy use of blockchain technologies.