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New energies 25/10/2019

The Blockchain as a lever of the energy transition, the example of TEO - The Energy Origin

If you only think of cryptocurrencies when you hear the word blockchain, it's because you don't know about TEO - The Energy Origin yet! This solution, developed by an internal startup incubated by ENGIE, uses blockchain technology to provide a new experience for customers using renewable energies by providing transparency and traceability.TEO has just gotten some buzz in the Blockchain community by being the first active platform on the Energy Webchain. An opportunity to take stock of the situation with Thierry Mathieu, co-founder of TEO.

Using TEO, is it really possible to know where the green electricity a customer uses comes from?

That deserves a little explanation! If only because we can't dye electrons green. Let's start by recalling some basic notions.

In a network, we can’t store energy on a massive scale. We need to constantly balance supply and demand, which is more difficult with the intermittency of renewable energies.

To provide proof that the energy being used is green, we compare confirmations that a certain quantity of energy were injected into and withdrawn from the same network. Currently, the guarantee of origin system offers an overall, annual comparison of these two proof points. However, over such a long period of time, this amounts to comparing energy produced in the summer and to energy used in the heart of winter. This is not a physical reality and could be likened to "green washing". The TEO solution is a step towards real green energy use that proves, notarises and time-stamps production and consumption on a daily basis.

For example, for our customer AirProduct, we allocate a specific amount of energy from renewable production sites (hydro, wind, and solar) that is equivalent to the criteria it chose to include in its contract. In their case, they chose to use the most local energy first, so wind power and then hydropower. We generate certificates that are registered in the blockchain that allocate shares of the energy produced by an asset on a daily basis to the grid.  Our goal is to move towards certificates produced hour by hour grid, to get closer and closer to real time.

 Why the blockchain? 

The blockchain is a distributed network that matches projections of tomorrow's distributed energy world.

As a technology, it makes it inexpensive and simple to record evidence in a tamper-proof system, providing transparency and traceability by giving people access to all this information. The solution brick developed by TEO lets you prove and certify that renewable energy was used and injected into the grid.  We expect that this technology will eventually make it possible for people to make micro-payments on hyper-local networks, to get involved in using energy produced at home and the recharging of electric vehicles.

Is your solution capable of accounting for all types of energy? 

We are able to certify all kinds of renewable energies, but we also work on biogas and hydrogen. Our goal is to accelerate the energy transition using more renewable energy and to pave the way for zero carbon.

Tell me about the Energy Web Foundation, whose blockchain you are the first to use.

The Energy Web Foundation is an initiative led by the Rocky Mountain Institute. It was launched in 2017 to create a blockchain for use in the applications involving energy. The Rocky Mountain Institute is an American think tank created by Amory Lovins in 1982. They have a pioneering vision for the energy transition and are making it possible to imagine a world of zero carbon. It is a widely recognized organization that helps governments with energy policy and the energy transition.

The idea of creating an energy blockchain was done within the "Brooklyn microgrid" pilot, a neighborhood-scale decentralized community electricity system and the first time blockchain technology was used in a field other than crypto currencies.

The Rocky Mountain Institute partnered with an Austrian startup, Grid Singularity, for their technical expertise on the blockchain, in order to get ecosystem together and create a foundation with engineers, energy experts and startups. Today this ecosystem, EWF, has 150 members and aims to predict the next steps and test different use cases where the blockchain could provide solutions: on transparency in energy consumption, certification, recharging electric vehicles, peak load shaving, etc. 

The Energy Web Foundation has used an adapted version of Ethereum technology to create a specific blockchain that consumes less energy and is suited to the energy world, allowing more transactions to be recorded with very low transaction costs. This blockchain, the Energy webchain, has been "live" since June 2019 following tests of 2 beta versions. We are the first to have switched our application on there.

What is the purpose of joining this consortium and using this blockchain for your team?

ENGIE is one of the first 10 members of the Energy Web Foundation (along with other energy companies). Joining this ecosystem allows us to pool our efforts to build a tool that is recognized because it is used by the main players in the energy sector.

The goal of the Energy Web Foundation is also to join forces to be more representative and have more weight to help get things done.

Source: Christine Leroy

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