Austria’s Biggest Utility Company to Test Blockchain Energy Trading

Wien Energie, Austria’s largest regional energy company, is joining a group of others from the industry to participate in a blockchain pilot with the aim to cut down costs related to energy trading.

The energy giant will use Canadian blockchain firm BTL’s proprietary Interbit platform. Launched in early 2016, Interbit is a multi-chain remittance platform based on distributed ledger technology that was developed to enable faster and significantly cheaper transfers of funds and assets.

Wein Energie’s Chairman, Michael Strebel stated:

Blockchain technology is a further digitization trend in the energy industry. As Austria’s largest energy service provider, we want to actively make use of the technology and its chances for our customers and us.

Wien Energie provides electricity, natural gas and heating to a nearly 2 million people in Austria. The company is reliant on decentralized generation and energy services, while producing electricity and heat from renewable energies as well as waste recycling and cogeneration plans.

The pilot project will also see the participation of consulting firm Ernst & Young Austria and will run for three months, from March to May 2017.

Having already participated in decentralized energy offerings via direct citizen investment models, blockchain technology could bring rise to entirely new business models, according to Wien Energie managing director Peter Gönitzer.

The executive added:

Through different experimental arrangements with the technology, new insights into the use of blockchain in the energy business are to be gained and possible process optimization and cost savings are to be explored.

The viability of future commercial applications and strategies of blockchain-based energy trading will be discussed after the trial.

The pilot is only the latest example of a growing number of industry efforts among utility and energy providers to trial blockchain technology.

A majority of energy companies in Austria’s neighbor and European giant Germany were revealed to be exploring or implementing blockchain technology in a survey toward the end of 2016.

Electron, a UK-based startup created an Ethereum blockchain platform to demonstrate significantly faster energy transfers (20x) with notably lowered costs by simulating data from 53 million metering points from 60 energy providers.

Late last year, Spanish energy giant Endesa opened a blockchain-specific lab to explore applications after labeling the innovation as an “almost incorruptible digital ledger”.

A recent endeavor in Russia sees regional Fiintech firm Qiwi launch a distributed ledger trial to track energy transactions as a part of an energy project in Crimea.

In Australia, a Perth-startup announced trials to buy, sell or exchange excess solar energy on a decentralized ledger, rather than a traditional grid.  Further examples of how blockchain energy can be used toward a distributed energy grid can be found here and here.

Image from Shutterstock.

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