Energy

Three companies democratising sunshine with Blockchain

By Anna Schaverien 16 October 2017
Summary

Empowering the solar panel generation.

Now that solar panels are affordable (Ikea sells a basic package for £4,000), the energy sector has a new problem to deal with.

Homeowners with solar panels fitted can take their energy off the grid with a storage battery (which is super-expensive).

Or they can share their energy with the grid, sell what they’ve generated during the day when they’re at work and have to buy electricity back for a higher price in the evening.

The modern answer to this 21st-century problem is blockchain.

The technology allows providers to democratise sunshine by cutting out the middleman.

With a transparent record of who’s generating what could mean energy companies aren’t needed anymore.

Here are three businesses fighting to make use of our sunshine:

1. SunContract

SunContract envisions a ‘global self-sufficient energy community’ for the future.

The Slovenian business offers consumers and power producers the chance to trade electricity with crypto-tokens through an app.

SunContract believes the current ‘centralised’ way we receive electricity won’t be able to cope with our increasing demand.

Decentralising our energy market with blockchain makes all transactions transparent, so no regulator needs to get involved.

By making our energy infrastructure more efficient, SunContract says it will lower costs, connect people worldwide, and get the ‘full potential’ out of our renewable energy sources.

2. Pylon Network

Pylon Network still uses a blockchain structure to trade energy, but it takes a different approach.

To exchange the power generated from solar panels, it has created its crypto-currency, Pylon Coin.

Pylon Network trades solar energy with its own FairCoin. Image: Pylon Network

But unlike SunContract, Pylon Network is targeting a slightly different audience: community-led energy co-operatives.

The idea is to empower communities to take control of the renewable energy they generate.

“You gather many small consumers and they become a cooperative that gives them access to the wholesale market,” COO of Pylon Network, Markos Romanos, told The Memo.

“They buy their own electricity collectively and they distribute it themselves.”

They’re about to start a pilot for an energy co-operative of 800 customers in Spain, but Pylon Network is hoping to expand out to the UK soon.

3. Power Ledger

This Australian startup is using blockchain sunshine to make buying energy cheaper for people who don’t have access to solar panels themselves.

Power Ledger is piloting peer-to-peer trading schemes in four social housing blocks in Australia and they’re planning a nationwide trial in New Zealand.

“It’s the people who are socially or financially marginalised, that will face the increasing cost of energy,” Power Ledger co-founder, David Martin, told The Memo.

To avoid the spike in energy prices, the residents will be offered the chance to buy energy from people who have an excess amount of solar power.

They get the power at “mates prices” rather than having to pay the extortionate sums that are often charged by electricity companies.

Although it’s only operating Down Under at the moment, Power Ledger wants to expand across Europe, Asia and South America.

“We want to make peer-to-peer trading a possibility right across the world,” Martin said.

It’s a big change for the energy market, but the benefits of using blockchain to trade solar power are clear.

After all, who wouldn’t want to cut a little off their electricity bill and feel like they’re saving the planet at the same time?