Bitcoin’s Blockchain Mining Can Innovate Sustainable Energy Production Per New UTS Law Report


Proof of work blockchains are often criticized for being environmentally unfriendly. One researcher, however, believes that blockchain technology could encourage the rise of sustainable energy.

Over the past week, blockchain expert Dr. Philippa Ryan from University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) Law has been arguing in support of blockchain technology in front of the United Nations.

As part of the event, the United Nations was invited to hear a series of presentations about how various standards around the world are addressing some of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dr. Ryan’s presentation on blockchain and sustainable energy was one such presentation.

In a presentation in front of 600 people representing 160 countries at this year’s International Organization for Standardization (ISO) event in Geneva, Dr. Ryan argued that blockchain technology could revolutionize the way we produce sustainable energy in the developing world.

Dr. Ryan’s presentation focused specifically on Goal 13 – Climate Action.

Blockchain Technology Can Help Developing Countries Grow More Sustainably

Developed countries and developing countries can both do a better job of achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.

In developing countries, one of the biggest challenges facing the United Nations is to help developing countries meet their increasing demand for electricity without using high-emission sources of energy.

Meanwhile, developed countries rely heavily on high-emission sources of energy. In many developed countries – including Australia, as mentioned by Dr. Ryan as an example – reducing emissions is challenging because so many incumbent industries are significant contributors to the economy.

“For example, disrupting Australia’s way of producing electricity to reduce emissions is challenging because the incumbent industries, infrastructure, systems and processes are significant contributors to the economy,”

said Dr. Ryan in her presentation. That’s where blockchain can help.

Developed countries have incumbent industries using high-emission sources of energy tied into the economy.

Developing countries, however, do not: in the developing world, the demand for electricity is increasing but there’s limited existing infrastructure. This presents the perfect opportunity to adopt cleaner, more sustainable sources of energy.

Dr. Ryan discussed how solar panels can help communities in developing parts of the world:

“Using solar panels, communities and villages can generate, store and use their own energy and the whole system can be managed securely using blockchain technology.”

How Blockchain Can Create A More Sustainable Future

Blockchain could be the secret weapon for integrating sustainable energy sources into communities in developing parts of the world.

Here’s how Kerrie Douglass from UTS explained it in a post on Phys.org:

“The idea is to think small – micro-transactive grids involve a limited number of participants with each dwelling or household producing solar powered energy which is bought and sold between the participants according to needs at different times.”

This system will work best when there’s trust in the system. As Dr. Ryan explained in her discussion in front of the UN:

“With no central controller or regulator of the system, everyone in the grid community must be able to trust the ledgers which record how much energy is generated, stored, bought and sold within and across the network.”

That’s where blockchain could be the perfect fit.

“[Blockchain] technology provides a transparent, auditable and automated market trading and clearing mechanism for the benefit of producers and consumers.”

Blockchain is also ideal for communities where not everyone has a bank account. Debits and credits can be settled at an agreed-upon time. The blockchain can be customized to handle transactions based on whatever payment method is locally-acceptable – including local traditions or trade conventions.

What’s Preventing Blockchain Adoption In The Developing World?

Dr. Ryan is a firm believer that blockchain tec hnology can be used to encourage the development of sustainable energy in developing parts of the world.

So what’s stopping blockchain technology from becoming more of a force in the developing world?

Dr. Ryan claims that there are three main barriers preventing the widespread adoption of blockchain:

  • Complexity
  • Cost
  • Reputation

That’s where standards can play a factor. Dr. Ryan was speaking in front of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the organization in charge of promoting certain standards across industries worldwide. With better standards, we can reduce the complexity and cost of blockchain technology while improving its reputation.

“At a time when global trust in government, banking, the media and other powerful institutions has slumped, blockchain can play a significant role in democratising new more trustworthy business networks. These new economic models can be exemplars for how blockchain technology might help achieve some of the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals].”

UTS’s Kerrie Douglass reported that Dr. Ryan’s presentation,

“was well-received and prompted questions from the audience.”

Blockchain has the potential to disrupt industries around the world. One of blockchain’s biggest and most important areas of innovation, however, could be in facilitating renewable energy production in the developing world.

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