Blockchain Technology in the Energy Transition : An Exploratory Study on How Electric Utilities Can Approach Blockchain Technology
Sammanfattning: The blockchain activity within the energy sector is high, and the list of use cases is continuouslygrowing. The distributed and immutable nature of blockchain technology could potentially beleveraged to accelerate the ongoing transition to more decentralized and digitalised energy systemsand to address some of the challenges the industry is facing. However, blockchain is an emergingtechnology and it is seen as a critical uncertainty by many incumbents as the challenges andopportunities of implementation are still largely unknown. There is thus a lack of knowledge andscarcity of decision-making tools for understanding why, when and how the technology can addprofound value. This study sets out to explore how utilities can evaluate and prioritize amongblockchain-based use cases and gain practical knowledge about how blockchain could beimplemented.In the first part of the study, a broad initial scope was applied as a large part of the blockchain-baseduse cases within the energy market were inventoried and grouped into clusters based on their overallarea of use. Each cluster was analysed and evaluated to best fit both the strategy of the commissioningcompany and the criteria for using blockchain technology. After the first stage of the use caseevaluation approach, four clusters most suited to the specified selection criteria were selected. Theseare P2P Energy Trading, EV Charging & Management, Grid Stabilization & Management andEnvironmental Commodity Management & Trading. Given a final evaluation based on the overallmaturity of the clusters, EV Charging & Management and more specifically, the use case of EmobilityRoaming, was prioritized and selected for further evaluation given the high market relevanceof the use case.In the second part of the study, both the business and the functional layers of the e-mobility roamingcase were investigated. By adding an additional blockchain layer to the current solution, fourscenarios for blockchain implementation were identified. Several observations were made from thedevelopment of the scenarios and the evaluation of their impact on the business and the functionallayers within the e-mobility market. It became evident that many of the current functions andprocesses could be automated with the use of blockchain. As the technology allows for instantaneoussettlement of transactions, the current manual and time-consuming process of exchanging chargedetail records and the following billing and settlement functions could be removed. This further hasimplications on the market environment as some of the responsibilities of the incumbent marketplayers could become obsolete. By evaluating the scenarios based on the technology, market,customer and regulatory aspects it became clear that the scenarios based on a permissionlessblockchain are further away from commercialization in the energy sector due to the volatile nature ofcryptocurrencies, scalability issues, and regulatory constraints compared to a permissioned consortiumblockchain. On the other hand, these scenarios are easier to start exploring until the technology ismature, since it does not require any initial investment to start building Proof of Concepts foreducational purposes.In conclusion, the industry interest and dedication towards blockchain is high as both incumbents andstart-ups are investigating the potential of the technology. However, given the high complexity of thetechnology, it is essential for companies to evaluate both the technology and the applications beforeinitiating projects and taking investment decisions. It can additionally be seen that while blockchainhas a significant potential to provide scalable and automated solutions with lower transaction costs,the technology is currently not mature enough to do so. There are still issues concerning scalability aswell as a lack of a coherent policy mix in place limiting the development of commercial applications.However, as the adoption of EVs is increasing and interesting technologies such as machine-tomachinepayments and inductive charging are being investigated, value lies in taking a proactivestance and to start exploring scalable and automated solutions.
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