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PERSPECTIVES


Could blockchain be a big win for utilities

Accenture's Tony Masella discusses the potential of blockchain for energy retailers
Tony Masella Tony Masella
Managing Director
Accenture Energy Consumer Services


LinkedIn

Do you see blockchain technologies as a significant game changer for energy providers?

I certainly see blockchain gaining momentum in the utilities industry. The future market is set to be a two-way system made up of billions of interacting endpoints: everything from smart plugs, smart meters, solar PV systems to digital customer platforms, just to name a few.

In this enormous, anonymous environment, security of data exchange and seamless transactions will be essential for effective market operation. So if you think about it, in place of current technologies, blockchain or similar technology could underpin the marketplace for these transactions.

Why do you believe energy providers should consider blockchain technologies?

Interestingly, data security and system transparency may not be the only benefits blockchain brings to the energy ecosystem. A distributed ledger will make it possible to facilitate machine-to-machine, smart-contract-based interactions. Devices could understand each other and be able to automatically cooperate and transact.

For example, smart home appliances—such as a smart plug or smart meter—connected to an energy trading platform could continuously look for the best offer and automatically alternate to a new energy provider through a smart contract. This would become an effortless experience for the customer, yet allow them to interact via their home directly to energy spot markets.

What innovative use of blockchain technologies have you seen in the marketplace?

I like the electric vehicle charging example. Challenges around limited, affordable charging infrastructure are hampering EV adoption. But that may soon change, thanks to innovative collaboration between utilities and blockchain providers that are reinventing the way roaming EV charging costs are tracked and billed.

In the future, you could foresee automated authorization processes, paired with wireless charging devices, that allow vehicles to charge while waiting at traffic lights—with billing done automatically by interconnected devices. In short, the EV becomes a virtual wallet, which could lead to other opportunities.

What intrigues you the most about disruptive innovation in the new energy retail ecosystem?

The next wave of disruptive innovation has already arrived, and it’s causing proactive energy providers to rethink the fundamentals of energy market transactions and explore future opportunities. As blockchain, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other disruptions loom, no one can predict the future energy consumer ecosystem for certain.

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