Earlier this month a joint venture was launched in New York that will allow individuals in Brooklyn to buy and sell energy directly from one another. TransActive Grid is the new start-up and it links an energy company and a blockchain developer (the technology beneath the Bitcoin digital currency) to provide subscribers with a secure network to measure their generation and consumption and then to buy and sell energy independently of the main utility companies.
Well that’s the headline, and it’s certainly an exciting prospect, and one that we’ve had a few heated conversations about around the table here at Ergoe Energy. There is a growing belief that blockchain technology is going to revolutionise the way in which secure transactions can be made between individuals without the need for a central exchange. For example the Bitcoin currency has no central bank as the internet and the blockchain forms the ledger in which all of the transactions are publicly written.
But like snooker, you have to keep at least one foot on the ground… The utility companies are certainly not going to melt away, like glaciers in an ever warmer world, as more of us get solar panels on our roofs. Who will continue to provide the power when there’s no wind or sun? And of course there are the wires down which all of the electricity flows. Someone has to maintain them and ensure we invest in them. In Brooklyn the new venture has had to be integrated into the existing utility companies infrastructure and systems. I’ve not read the technical details (I can’t find them!), but I assume that the electricity will flow across the existing grid and through the existing utility meter. In which case the cost of the “micro-grid” power will need to be subtracted from the utilities invoice. All perfectly possible, and by the sound of it already dealt with in this proof of principle scheme.
It’s an exciting time to be in the energy business, but don’t count on having made your last call to a utility contact centre just yet!