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The hype surrounding blockchain in energy has undoubtedly dropped off since 2017, as the realities of moving towards commercialisation has proved far harder than many expected back then.
Most of blockchain’s potential applications to new energy, like virtual community energy trading, EV charging roaming and green energy verification, remain as small pilot projects. Whilst it does still generate interest when brought up at energy industry and tech conferences, those working with blockchain day-to-day are trying to shift the conversation away from the underlying technology and towards the solutions it provides. However, the current reality is that it is ‘permissioned’ blockchains that make most sense for energy applications, and there are two key challenges that we think may hold it back.
With the amount of data processed globally continuously increasing, it may seem surprising that energy demand from data centres has remained stable for the past decade. This has been possible by minimising power requirements of non-IT equipment in data centres, leading to a drastic reduction in power usage effectiveness of many centres.
However, as more hyperscale data centres, which can have a demand of over 100 MW, are added to the grid and improvements in energy efficiencies provide fewer opportunities to save energy, we are looking at the role these large energy consumers can play in the energy transition.
In late 2019 we completed a major study into the market status, challenges and lessons learnt for European Distribution System Operators (DSOs) using demand side flexibility to manage their networks.
The study identified that the UK is the leading market in Europe – and probably the world - in terms of DSOs utilising demand side flexibility, with the Netherlands quite close behind. In most other countries, projects have not moved beyond pilots or trials.
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