Grid complexity is increasing exponentially. Is blockchain the answer?

Published onFebruary 7, 2018

Visions for the utility grid of tomorrow often include armies of smaller resources connected and helping balance supply and demand. For example, grid services that might be supplied by an electric vehicle. As EV adoption picks up speed and utilities learn to incorporate them as grid management resources, the sheer volume of data moving around will grow exponentially. A home charging station might participate in demand response programs, provide services to the grid, and purchase energy from a nearby solar generator. Each of those tiny transactions has a cost, and it takes time to settle the ledger. Regardless of the size of the grid — whether a microgrid with a few hundred users or a regional grid with millions of users — grid complexity is about to rise.

Enter, Blockchain, which has been widely touted for its ability to revolutionize everything from currency and financial transactions to balancing the grid and energy trading. Blockchain is essentially a distributed ledger technology that allows for validation of transactions rapidly, cheaply and publicly, helping reduce data risks and speeding the authentication process. It can eliminate the need for a centralized approach to market clearing and trusted third parties, opening the way for a transactive energy environment where balancing is constant and security inherent.