How is Austria's energy crisis being tackled with blockchains?

How is Austria's energy crisis being tackled with blockchains?

MyPower tokenizes solar PV assets across Austria, allowing consumers to benefit from partial ownership and invest in renewable energy sources.

Climate change has become one of humanity’s greatest global challenges. At the same time, dependence on hydrocarbon energy sources such as coal, crude oil and natural gas is still strong. The supply lines built around them are even more vulnerable due to geopolitical tensions. Due to the current sanctions against Russia, experts now expect rising electricity prices and negative effects on the European energy market. The Austrian government understands the urgent need for the energy transition and has set an ambitious goal of becoming climate neutral by 2040. Alternative solutions to replace fossil energy appear only slowly and are mostly not yet efficient enough on a large scale. However, there are promising approaches, especially in the form of decentralized renewable energies or blockchain technology for peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading. In Austria, there are already pilot projects dealing with P2P trading in the energy market. Leading the way are blockchain scaler Riddle&Code and Austria’s largest energy provider, Wien Energie, which formed a joint venture in 2020 under the name Riddle&Code Energy Solutions. As of April 1 this year, Kai Siefert is the new head of the joint venture. He was previously an IT strategist at Wien Energie and worked on the energy tokenization platform MyPower in Vienna. Cointelegraph asks him how blockchain can be used to fight the energy crisis. Wien Energie and Riddle&Code have been cooperating for a long time. Back in 2017, the companies launched the first Peer2Peer project in the Quartier, where they tokenized photovoltaic solar systems so that consumers could participate in energy production. Later, in late 2018, while Siefert was still Wien Energie’s IT strategist, his team developed a blockchain strategy together with Astrid Schober, Wien Energie’s CIO, focusing on the topic of energy tokenization with security tokens and utility tokens. This resulted in the MyPower platform. First, Wien Energy and Riddle&Code tested decentralized trading of self-generated solar energy via blockchain in a smart city project with 100 participants. Everything went smoothly and in 2021 the tokenization platform for photovoltaic power plants was launched. Riddle&Code tokenized Austria’s largest solar power plant and acquired 1,000 customers who, as part of an advertising campaign, bought energy vouchers issued by Wien Energie in the form of tokens, which could be used to pay electricity bills.Now, MyPower is tokenizing solar PV assets across Austria, allowing consumers to benefit from partial ownership and invest in renewable energy sources. According to Siefert, the concept of energy sharing is currently in high demand. Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the coronavirus crisis, electricity prices have skyrocketed. Rising energy prices can be mitigated with cheaper renewable energies, intelligent information technology and energy sharing. With blockchain-based energy sharing, the jointly produced electricity is fed into the grid, distributed and sold directly to the apartments, without an intermediary. Unused kilowatt-hours can be sold to other energy communities, so consumers earn or save money. Energy sharing can enable direct energy trading between energy consumers (energy producers and final consumers), who can use this approach to take control of production and demand. People who rent their apartments can actively participate in the energy transition and benefit from the income. As a result, consumers are more involved in their own production, and local value creation comes into focus.”We don’t need to buy natural gas from Russia or oil from Saudi Arabia in order to create energy here in Europe. The sun comes practically for free and produces electricity reliably. However, many people cannot participate in this because they do not have their own house, but live in a sublet or simply they don’t have the means to buy a large solar system. But we can split these plants into small digital tokens, so private investors with small capital can participate,” said Siefert. Small renewable energy communities such as the Erneuerbare-Energie-Gemeinschaften (EEG) already exist in Austria. Such energy communities (in Austria and according to the law on the expansion of renewable energy sources) are non-profit-oriented legal entities whose purpose is to decentralize the production, distribution and consumption of renewable energy primarily for public benefit. Such EEGs still play a small role in the production, local and regional distribution and consumption of renewable energy and are often not very profitable. However, things are starting to improve. According to Siefert, the demand for EEGs has already increased tremendously due to rising energy prices, and Riddle&Code Energy Solutions offers technical solutions for setting up and commissioning such EEGs. “With our system, we can also connect them to decentralized marketplaces,” Siefert said. This is already possible through the law on the expansion of renewable energy sources, which has been in force since 2021 and is a European Union directive that has been transposed into national law. Siefert noted that there is “increasing interest in renewable energy” in Austria, Europe and worldwide. “Companies working in the field of renewable energies are now in the center of attention, as they are benefiting worldwide from the large investments favored by climate policy,” added the Austrian expert. Currently, P2P energy trading is not yet permitted in Austria. Everything works based on the current electricity market infrastructure, and billing data is made available by the networks 24 hours after measurement. However, Riddle&Code Energy Solutions can already receive this data in real time. Data from the smart meter is read live from the customer interface and transmitted through a trusted gateway, signed and fully encrypted on the blockchain. From there, these data can be read immediately. Customers can see how their credit is growing in kilowatt hour tokens every quarter of an hour. This data cannot be used for invoicing for the time being, but it helps to encourage correct consumption behavior. Thanks to such data, the customer can see how much green energy is on the grid from the community facility and use this time to turn on the washing machine or charge the electric car, for example. This, in turn, has an indirect effect on the bill, because customers pay less if they use more electricity from their own common source.”Our goal is for everyone to be able to participate in energy sharing. However, private P2P trading is currently not possible in Austria until legal regulations are in place. That is why I would like to see more freedom here from the government side and a greater speed in the spread of renewable energy sources. Austria is It can become one of the leading countries in the EU and the world in terms of P2P energy trade and the development of energy communities,” Siefert opined. Hardware, software, tests, interesting and colorful news from the world of IT by clicking here!

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