The potential of blockchain in the energy industry, which most people know as the distributed ledger technology powering Bitcoin, has had me excited for some time.  The more I delve into blockchain, assuming the known issues are ironed out in the coming years, the more use cases I can imagine.

Various papers compare blockchain to TCP/IP in terms of it not being disruptive in of itself.  Instead, it enables new applications to be brought to market that are disruptive, or at the very least transformative.  One such application that sparked my interest is being used in the USIZO project in South Africa.  The USIZO project shows how blockchain can be leveraged for social projects, those focused on helping the community.

The USIZO project uses blockchain enabled smart meters so people, anywhere in the world, can donate Bitcoin to prepay the supply of electricity.  Why? In the case of the USIZO project, they state that:

“Many African schools are straining under the burden of managing their utility costs. The standard of education is severely degraded because they are required to divert spending away from equipment, amenities and teachers.”

With blockchain technology it is possible to design social projects that help address real energy challenges.

Imagine the possibilities here in Australia?  Instead of donating money and having no visibility as to where that money is going, we could directly support causes that are meaningful to us.  We could give, knowing our money is helping with an essential service and knowing with certainty that 100% of our money will benefit the recipient.

In recent posts I have talked about the potential for ‘gifting’ energy to others.  Imagine having a system where the NegaWatts (NW) you generate from a demand response event, or the power you produce from your rooftop solar, can be ‘gifted’ as energy credits to a specific individual or group?

The USIZO project is just one of the many applications being explored around the world that leverages blockchain technology to solve the challenges we face in the electricity industry today.  Over the coming weeks I will be sharing my thoughts on the many other applications leveraging blockchain in the context of the Australian electricity market.

Could blockchain enabled smart meters play a role in Australia to help vulnerable energy consumers?

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