The use of blockchain and the applications of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) are rapidly gaining ground across industries. But what are the implications for utilities, and how much of the buzz is grounded in reality?
Although DLTs are very much still developing and almost all efforts are limited to piloting and experimentation, the stage is being set for DLTs to drive near-term incremental value and, in the long-term, potentially enable the much-hyped disruption across the energy value chain.
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As utilities continue to navigate the transition from their legacy roles as commodity providers and become orchestrators and platform operators in a more democratized, decentralized and interconnected energy ecosystem, DLTs have the potential to represent a key enabling technology for many applications—from EV charging payment interoperability, to peer-to-peer trading, to machine-to-machine energy transactions—and beyond.
Blockchain promises to unlock value for the utilities industry. But this will not happen overnight and it is not the whole story. The technology, the business models and the regulatory frameworks are all still maturing, and major challenges must be addressed before blockchain is ready for widespread application at scale.
Therefore, it will be critical for utilities to maintain focus on the new solutions DLTs can offer for old problems, as well as what it can enable, instead of getting bogged down in specific technology considerations right away.
What can utilities do now to prepare? Accenture recommends three key actions:
- Define your enterprise blockchain strategy and begin to develop key competencies.
- Select applications strategically.
- Partner—while protecting your interests.