Project Description

This will change our lives

Blockchain technology is set to revolutionise the energy industry, which is why Wien Energie is already proactively dealing with the topic and developing expertise. In 2017, Wien Energie carried out the world’s first blockchain gas trade. In the VIERTEL ZWEI urban development area, Wien Energie is working with 100 residents to develop new customer solutions with the help of blockchain technology. Wien Energie has also developed a blockchain refrigerator in cooperation with Bosch. It is intended to show how private individuals will be able to monitor and influence their electricity consumption in the future in a secure and transparent manner.

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Project details

Using blockchain technology makes it possible to process energy transactions in an uncomplicated manner, leading to the creation of new business models in the energy sector. In particular, the technology supports the development of decentralised energy supply systems, as producers and consumers can be brought together without the need for intermediaries.

A blockchain is a continuously expandable list of data records that are connected to each other. Blockchain technology allows goods to be exchanged without a centralised intermediary. The basis of this is that transaction data are stored decentrally and forgery-proof. This means that participants no longer rely on an institution (such as a bank, an intermediary or an authority), but on the blockchain. ‘Blockchain 2.0’ refers to the extension of the technology to include ‘smart contracts’. These pre-programmed contracts automatically perform certain actions. For example, the delivery of goods may automatically trigger payment. This could lead to large-scale automation of business activity.

Blockchain technology can greatly simplify the process of trading electricity and gas. Energy trading is normally a complex process. Transactions agreed between suppliers and buyers must be entered into a scheduling system, they must be submitted to special clearing offices (Balance Group Coordinators), transmission grid operators (such as Austrian Power Grid) and the regulatory authority E-Control must be notified. At the beginning of 2017, Wien Energie was one of the first companies in Europe to participate in a pilot project run by EY and the Canadian start-up BTL, which tested the use of blockchain technology in international gas trading. Trading was conducted via the Enerchain platform without agents or any bureaucratic intermediate steps, with the transaction costs being drastically reduced as a result of the automatic processing.

A wide range of different blockchain applications are tested in the VIERTEL ZWEI urban development area, including billing for micro-payments when charging electric cars, self-generated solar power being traded among the residents and offering individualised electricity tariffs. This is made possible using blockchain technology through so-called ‘smart contracts’. This makes it possible to manage and charge for the use of different applications, such as shared photovoltaic systems, e-charging stations or decentralised heating/cooling solutions.

Wien Energie has developed the first blockchain refrigerator in cooperation with Bosch. The refrigerator shows how households can monitor and influence their electricity consumption in the future in a safe and transparent way. An app on the user’s smartphone or tablet enables them to manage numerous function such as setting the temperature of the refrigerator and the freezer compartments, checking electricity consumption or monitoring the general functionality of the appliance. For example, if the refrigerator door is left open, the application alerts the user. It is also possible, in addition to these functions, to see the appliance’s consumption over time and to analyse the carbon footprint – without having to lift a finger. The app also provides the user with useful benchmark figures. For every kilowatt hour of electricity that the refrigerator consumes, there is a transaction confirmation and clear proof of origin. This means that each individual can decide for themselves whether the energy comes from the neighbour’s photovoltaic system or from the wind farm they pass on the way to work.

Andreas Freitag

“The energy industry should take an active interest in blockchain technology, as the impact on existing processes and markets could be enormous. Now is a good time to test the technology and to prepare your company for the coming changes. The projects help the energy industry to better assess the future potential of the technology and foster a greater understanding of how the blockchain will affect the world of energy.”

Andreas Freitag, Blockchain expert at Accenture Austria

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