Electron Chief Operating Officer introduces block chain energy applications


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nnThis is the interview with Power Technology’s chief operating officer of the UK’s startup, Electron. The company develops a chain-chain platform for the energy industry and therefore has a deep and professional insight into the application of the technology in the energy sector. Its chief executive, in his interview, described how the block chain could quickly switch between utility vendors and introduced the company’s platform, and commented on other related issues.n
nnTranslated by: Inan
nAs the global power system continues to accelerate digitization, highly innovative new business models and flexible energy trading systems may emerge. Better integration of renewable energy, decentralized energy plans and a more open electricity market will enable the industry to achieve an important breakthrough, people are indeed conducting relevant investigations to study the digital technology that can effectively support these advanced concepts.n
nBlock chain – A digital book system that trades on a chain of “blocks” – technology that is being explored by many industries, including energy. The inherent security and transparency of the block chain means that it can be widely used in the power industry, from local microgrid projects to large-scale cross-border energy transactions.n
nThe UK startup, Electron, was established in November 2015 to develop a block-based platform for the energy industry. The company has established a chain-chain platform “ecosystem” that includes asset registration, flexible trading and smart meter data privacy systems. Recently, the company is conducting customer utility switching, using virtual data to test more than 55 million supply points, enabling customers to switch from one vendor to another in just 15 seconds. The possibility of block chains in power seems to be infinite, and Electron is determined to take full advantage of this opportunity.n
n”We are working with key industry participants who are actually facing these problems to develop solutions that help us come up with the solution to the problem,” said Joanna Hubbard, co-founder and co-founder of Electron. “It’s only the initial stage, While drawing on the possibility of people ‘s expectations.n
nIn this interview, Hubbard talked about the energy sector block chain opportunities, emerging business models and around this potentially transformative digital technology hype bubble.n
nChris Lo (hereinafter referred to as CL): block chain and peer-to-peer network for energy consumption, distribution and trading have any effect?n
nnJoanna Hubbard (hereinafter referred to as JH): We are conducting P2P experiments within an alliance, EDF is the energy supplier, PassivSystems provides technology, Repowering London is the position, University of London (UCL) to carry out university research. These are very interesting tests to study how people want to deal with digital energy. Do they want to make a positive deal? Do they want to automate it? What value can it bring?n
nnCL: Can you describe the design of the Electron platform and explain how it supports the energy field application?n
nnJH: I think our platform is special; although many people have a platform, but we are designing an ecosystem. According to the use case, our platform is basically divided into three. We have an asset registration platform that identifies the assets that users want to trade or optimize in the system, as well as their characteristics and location. Now, the location of the asset is also very valuable information, we initially in the design of energy systems did not think of this.n
nnnThe second platform is a trading platform, basically a set of rules or agreements that allow assets to trade and interact with each other. Then there is a third platform, the data platform, where users can control their own operational data. One of the things that need to be managed is data access. How to let others access their own data, do not want others to visit what data, which are increasingly important for the energy sector.n
nnCL: How does the block chain improve your platform?n
nnJH: There is currently a government procurement process on the asset registration platform that can build a new infrastructure in the industry and register the meter – where to install and where to control it. This use case can achieve faster switching between suppliers.n
nThe idea that we build this platform on the chain chain is that users do not have to pay for new intermediaries that process books. Can make the industry co-ownership and cooperation, this approach is cheaper and can achieve faster switching. However, it is only a better way to develop a new business model for the future in the digital energy sector.n
nIn addition to the P2P domain, the second top-down project we are studying is flexibility trading. At present, the flexibility of the market or demand to respond to the market is only one buyer, the national grid. So we are trying to develop it into a market with a lot of buyers of such products.n
nIf we are able to create a perfectly fair energy market – a transparent agreement with who can trade and how to trade, so that users can protect the privacy of their transaction data, then this will become an effective way to develop a flexible market so that we can Balance the grid at a lower cost and integrate more renewable energy.n
nnCL: What stage is your utility switching product now? What kind of results did you see in the test, and how much energy supplier had shown interest?n
nnJH: We have established this platform and extended it to the national scale – in fact, our customers already have 55 million, British users have 53 million. This will allow the supplier’s switching speed to be 40 times faster.n
nBecause it is much faster than the required level, we have not done more work to upgrade. What we are currently doing is to integrate it with the current supplier system. The technology that uses the block chain to switch does not affect the interface technology. We can still use the current system. But because of the development of block chain is still in its early stages, people hope that we can prove this point. So we are now proofing.n
nWe have received strong support from the independent supplier community. Twenty independent suppliers said they would support the initiative and decided to participate. They are really in the study of this new value proposition and their own customers can provide future services.n
nnCL: How do you think large-scale centralization utilities should be developed to take digital technology such as block chains and maintain market position?n
nnJH: For example, EDF has begun to explore this P2P test. I think they need a lot of participation and develop their own products. All of the vendors I understand about P2P transactions are involved in these trials, partly because block chains are very effective in eliminating unnecessary mediations. What these intermediaries do is to coordinate data or provide trust.n
nNow, what the supplier is doing is also to pre-order the energy for the user, to participate in the balance of the market, or to pay the cost of all systems. So I think a lot of successful projects will be established with the existing established companies, large energy companies will also work with small independent companies to carry out these tests.n
nnCL: Do you think block chains and other digital innovations help to achieve a fair competitive environment in the energy market?n
nnJH: I totally agree with this view, because digital energy can improve the visibility of people’s activities and their consequences. This means that the user can choose. It can also be trusted – people can know exactly what happened and how it all happened.n
nI think this also opens a new vision for customers. Henry Ford has a famous saying – “If I ask people what they want, they will say want a faster horse” and he creates a car for people. I think these tests show people that they can have better choices and services. Failure to meet this new technology for people to create new expectations of the public will be in trouble.n
nnCL: What level of applications do you think will be implemented in the energy sector in 10-15 years?n
nnJH: At present, the block chain is a new tool that allows people to make new attempts. There are a lot of people talking about it and trying to realize its potential. Many projects do not require a block chain, or no block chain can be effectively completed. But there are a lot of block chain project is indeed legal, and able to open up new markets.n
nI think the hype bubble will last for years, and I think there will be serious deflation when people realize that there are a lot of these projects that are not so serious. It was only 15% to 20% of the projects that were already running.n
nWe will not only discuss the block chain in the future, but will use it unconsciously, it will use it to support the real important parts of digital energy, such as the correct shared record system, data access, fair protocol and execution. These features will be implemented without having to rely on the company to provide. I think that all these elements will be fully available in the next 15 years.n

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