US Senate Sees Blockchain Adding Potential Value to Energy Efficiency


Blockchain Has Valuable Potential According To US Senate Hearing

On August 21st, the US Senate held a hearing on the energy efficiency of blockchain and similar technology. The hearing on energy and natural resources, held by the U.S. Senate Committee in Washington, DC, centered on the applicability of blockchain and related technologies, as well as the cybersecurity possibilities of using such technologies in the energy industry.

According to the official website:

“The purpose of the hearing is to consider the energy efficiency of blockchain and similar technologies and the cybersecurity possibilities of such technologies for energy industry applications. In particular, should we expect electricity prices to increase from rising electricity demand in blockchain applications? In addition, how can we evaluate whether blockchain and similar approaches will soon improve the cybersecurity of computing systems used to supply our energy?”

Thomas A. Golden, program manager at Electric Power Research Institute (ERPI), reported that the institute’s examination on blockchain and its capabilities led to several pilots that have demonstrated potential promise in the deployment of blockchain to enable transactive energy.

ERPI established a Utility Blockchain Interest Group (UBIG) consisting of almost 40 energy companies in order to raise awareness and provide information about the technology. Additionally, the institute has launched the development of a blockchain-based energy market simulator.

Claire Henly who is managing director at Energy Web Foundation, approached the problem of the energy regulation of Bitcoin and comparable networks while also describing that there are relevant potential applications of blockchain in the energy sector. As per Henly, blockchain can render energy markets more efficient and open, while there are still some critical issues that should be solved before blockchain can contribute to the energy sector at scale.

Arvind Narayanan, associate professor of computer science at Princeton University, presented with his prospect on the potential draws of the new technology, arguing:

“A blockchain-based market might be more attractive than a centralized trading platform if market participants are reluctant to a single company controlling the platform. Other initiatives enable customers to directly trade electricity with each other in a ‘peer to peer’ fashion, for example, by buying and selling excess rooftop solar power. However, peer-to-peer trading still requires the cooperation of utilities who ultimately control the physical flow of electricity.”

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