WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
New powerful technologies are letting us revolutionise how we generate and deliver electricity, and autonomous, self-balancing energy grids are now a thing.
A little while ago I wrote about the US Department of Energy’s plans to create the world’s first autonomous energy grid, but now, it looks like the American’s might have to play catch up after Dutch company ElaadNL, which was founded by a number of European energy grid operators in 2009, announced they’ve “developed a Proof of Concept (PoC) for an autonomous, smart power grid for Electric Vehicles” that uses yet another “new” technology I covered, namely IOTA’s minerless blockchain tech called Tangle, that uses mathematical models rather than miners to create a blockchain-like system aimed at helping organisations tame the Internet of Things (IoT).
As per the announcement, the PoC shows the ability of smart grids to not only consume power, but also generate it and then autonomously redistribute it amongst community members, and Tangle is the magic technology that brings the solution to life by letting the charging devices autonomously decide whether they’re needed to help balance grid load. Additionally people using ElaadNL’s electric charging stations can earn IOTA tokens by charging electric vehicles at a lower speed, or at an off-peak time.
“The grid in this PoC will connect all devices to a particular area of the grid, along with the transformer supplying energy. If one or more devices lowers its energy usage, they receive a few tokens of the IOTA cryptocurrency,” said the announcement.
“This proof of concept shows a possible future electricity system where energy is shared amongst neighbours and decentralized islands are capable of balancing themselves [without the need for human intervention]. We are using our electricity grid in totally different ways than we did 50 years ago, and we went from only consuming to also producing energy,” added Harm van den Brink, the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) expert at ElaadNL who led the project.
Elsewhere, in January, Danish state owned energy company Energinet also announced it had expanded its partnership with IOTA to investigate the use of its technology in new areas. IOTA’s product offering is specifically geared to IoT, and Energinet is now looking for ways to create new solutions based on IoT “for emerging phenomena, such as green energy and electric vehicles.” Then in December 2018, Spanish renewable energy company ACCIONA Energía also announced its intention to use IOTA to trace and monitor electricity generation. ACCIONA and software startup FlexiDAO had been jointly working on the development of a commercial demonstrator that tracks the supply chain of renewable electricity generation from five wind and hydro facilities in Spain to four corporate customers in Portugal.