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Major UK Energy Company Acquires Stake in Blockchain Firm Electron

U.K. energy supplier OVO has announced a strategic investment in blockchain energy technology company Electron.

Major United Kingdom energy company OVO has invested in blockchain firm Electron through its recently launched technology division, Kaluza. The development was announced in an OVO blog post published on March 12.

Kaluza —  an intelligent grid technology company that provides software and hardware products to the energy sector — has reportedly made an investment in Electron, a London-based energy tech company that uses blockchain technology. The move aims to facilitate Electron’s deployment of distributed energy trading platforms.

Electron will purportedly use the proceeds of the investment to develop its energy platforms and systems, or its distributed flexibility marketplace. “The development of Electron’s shared asset register will be crucial to supporting the growth of Kaluza and deliver on its mission to securely connect all devices to an intelligent zero-carbon grid,” the post explains.

The new investment from OVO is reportedly the first since Mitsubishi acquired a 20 percent stake in the firm. OVO is reportedly the seventh largest energy supplier in the U.K.

Blockchain has seen multiple applications in the energy sector globally. Earlier in March, Thai petroleum refining firm Bangchak Corporation Public Co. Limited (BCP) began testing a blockchain-based energy trading platform and commercial microgrid. The platform will support the basic electricity needs of an average BCP fuel station in addition to generating, distributing and storing energy for neighboring shopping mall tenants.

Last month, Japan’s solar power supplier Kyocera partnered with LO3 Energy to test blockchain-based virtual power plants (VPP) for improved energy distribution. The test will allow the companies to evaluate the the feasibility of VPPs that promote low-carbon use without fuels or carbon emissions based on peer-to-peer distributed consensus network.

According to recent research from Infoholic Research LLP, the global blockchain in energy utilities market is expected to grow by 60 percent by 2024. The market was assessed to be $210.4 million in 2018, and is expected to reach $3.4 billion by 2024. Infoholic Research predicts the growth at a compound annual growth rate of 59.4 percent from 2018 to 2024.

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Thai Petroleum Company Tests Blockchain Energy Trading Platform

Petroleum refiner Bangchak Corporation Public Co. Limited is testing a blockchain-based microgrid at one of its stations in Bangkok.

Thai petroleum refining firm Bangchak Corporation Public Co. Limited (BCP) is testing a blockchain-based energy trading platform and commercial microgrid, distributed energy news site Microgrid Knowledge reports on March 7.

BCP is testing the new platform at a shopping mall attached to one of its fuel stations in Bangkok. The new system will purportedly combine 280.9 kW of commercial rooftop and canopy solar photovoltaics with 913 kWh of lithium-ion, nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide and 92 kWh of lithium-iron-phosphate battery energy storage capacity.

In other words, the microgrid generation and distribution platform will support the basic electricity needs of an average BCP fuel station in addition to generating, distributing and storing energy for shopping mall tenants.

The Green Community Energy Management System (GEMS) is “an experimental sandbox system” that will run on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain. BCP reportedly aims to see whether the GEMS can be applied to its network of fuel stations across the country.  Wuthipong Suponthana, the managing director of Leonics — the firm that designed the system — told Microgrid Knowledge:

“Our customer, Bangcheck Petroleum Co., wants their people to gain know-how regarding the design and implementation of microgrid systems, as well as know-how regarding the operation of microgrids as a business. Energy storage systems’ costs are coming down, and they want to be ready to implement these systems.”

Microgrid Knowledge states that the new system will allow GEMS users to save on electricity costs and simultaneously reduce pollution, which is a public health concern in Bangkok.

The Thai government has been active in supporting the development of decentralized technologies and cryptocurrencies. In January, the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) developed a blockchain solution for e-voting. According to NECTEC, once 5G is eventually adopted, all votes will be connected with the new technology.

In February, the Thai National Legislative Assembly voted to allow the issuance of tokenized securities on a blockchain. Once the changes come into effect later this year, tokenized stocks and bonds can be officially issued on a blockchain.

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Major South Korean City to Build Blockchain-Enabled Virtual Power Plant

South Korea’s government will spend $3.5 million to set up a blockchain-enabled virtual power plant in the city of Busan.

South Korea’s government will spend 4 billion Korean won (KRW) (about $3.5 million) to set up a blockchain-enabled virtual power plant (VPP) in the city of Busan. The development was reported by South Korean newspaper Yonhap News Agency on Monday, Dec. 10.

Busan, South Korea’s second most populous city after Seoul, has announced that the city administration has selected a project to support an innovative energy industry in the region by building a VPP based on a citizens-shared blockchain.

The project will be reportedly represented at the national competition in 2019 hosted by the largest electric utility in South Korea, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

By its definition, a virtual power plant is a cloud-based distributed power plant that integrates the idle capacities of multiple energy resources in order to optimize power generation.

The recently announced blockchain-powered VPP project is set to aggregate such power sources as Busan area factories and public facilities of energy storage system (ESS), as well as solar power plants.

The project was reportedly proposed by the city of Busan, as well as major local companies and institutions including Pusan National University (PNU), energy management firm Nuri Telecom, Busan City Gas and real estate firm Korea Industrial Complex Corporation.

The city of Busan has already been actively developing and promoting blockchain technology, according to Korean crypto-focused news agency TokenPost.

Earlier this year, Yoo Jae-soo, the Minister of Economic Affairs in Busan and former director general for financial policy at the Financial Services Commission (FSC), reportedly held a meeting to discuss the establishment of a special zone in the city in order to build a friendly environment for the development of the blockchain and crypto industry.

In June of this year, South Korean governmental agency, Industry-SW ICT Convergence Association (WICA), also revealed plans to establish a blockchain center in Busan modeled on Switzerland’s Crypto Valley. According to the plan, the South Korean version of Zug’s Crypto Valley is set to be located at Haeundae, an affluent and touristic beachfront space in eastern Busan.

Earlier today, the country’s second-biggest commercial bank, Shinhan Bank, launched a blockchain-based initiative within the internal processes of the institution in order to reduce the number of human errors in record keeping.

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Researcher Challenges Bitcoin Mining Energy Consumption Alarmists, Says Debate ‘Oversimplified’

A clean energy expert has hit back against the common perception that high energy consumption is an “Achilles Heel” for Bitcoin (BTC), in an article published by The Conversation August 20.

Katrina Kelly, Strategy Manager at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy, says that we need to shift the debate around Bitcoin mining away from energy-intensivity and towards where that energy is produced and how it is generated:

“By talking specifically about … the consumption of energy alone..many fail to understand one of the most basic benefits of renewable energy systems. Electricity production can increase while still maintaining a minimal impact on the environment….Not all types of energy generation are equal in their impact on the environment, nor does the world uniformly rely on the same types of generation across states and markets.”

Recent research estimates that mining could account for 0.5 percent of global energy usage by 2018 – but Kelly argues that the sources, not the amount, of energy is ultimately what matters.

China –  a country that has long been a crypto mining superpower due to its cheap electricity supply – uses largely fossil-based sources, which Kelly notes is highly problematic: the country is already ratcheting up devastating levels of carbon emissions.

Iceland, on the other hand – an increasingly popular spot for BTC miners – relies on almost 100 percent renewable geothermal and hydropower energy sources. In this case, Kelly argues,  miners’ power demands are “nearly irrelevant” to the health of the environment. The US Pacific Northwest – which has abundant supplies of low-carbon energy sources – is another such case, according to Kelly.

While carbon-density and “dirty power” supplies are the crux of Kelly’s article, she also offers another perspective to contextualize the Bitcoin mining controversy: if mining consumed an estimated 30 terawatt hours in 2017, banking continues to consume an estimated 100 terawatts of power each year. “[Even] if Bitcoin technology were to mature by more than 100 times its current market size, it would still equal only 2 percent of all energy consumption.”

As a recent Cointelegraph analysis noted, some have argued that energy-intensive and profit-driven Bitcoin mining could inadvertently drive innovation to further develop clean energy sources. Google information security engineer Marc Bevand told CT that:

“Because miners are so sensitive to electricity prices, they are often a driver pushing utilities to further develop renewables which are now the cheapest source of energy…If the energy use of cryptocurrency miners continue[s] to increase, it will help decrease the costs of renewables for society at large (increased demand → increased R&D → increased capacity & higher efficiency → lower costs through economies of scale).”

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Researchers Build Blockchain Electricity Exchange They Say Cuts Waste

Researchers from one of the top universities in China say they have developed a decentralized exchange, not for crypto assets, but for unused power

A patent application filed by team from China’s Fudan University in January and revealed on Friday sets out the workings of a blockchain-based electricity exchange that assigns power sellers and buyers as nodes on the network and allows them to securely trade unused electricity without a third-party intermediary.

Using the network, nodes can broadcast requests for sales or purchases, after which smart contracts will connect matching requests, based on data such as volume and price, and then trigger transactions – a mechanism similar to that of a decentralized crypto exchange.

The effort is a response to the growing supply of renewable energy in China, especially solar power generated by households, which is often generated in excess of demand in some regions.

The researchers write:

“Households then have no other choices but to let the unused solar power go to waste because they don’t have a direct way of exchanging electricity.”

To facilitate transactions over the decentralized network, a digital currency would be used between buyers and sellers, the patent application explained.

Although it’s not clear which digital asset(s) the platform might use, the system has so far been made to built on two blockchain systems, according to the Fudan team.

“This idea can be achieved in either a public, private or a consortium blockchain. And in this case, the system has been developed on IBM’s Hyperledger platform as well as the ethereum blockchain, to make electricity tradeable and shareable within a community,” the document states.

Read the full patent application below:

Fudan University Patent Application by CoinDesk on Scribd

Solar panels image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Another US County Hits Pause on Crypto Mining Power Requests

Another county in the U.S. state of Washington has blocked new utility applications from cryptocurrency mining outfits due to concerns over spiking energy demands.

According to a local news source on Sunday, commissioners from the Franklin County Public Utility District (PUD) ordered the temporary moratorium to make time for a study on the effects of the growing density of cryptocurrency mining farms on electricity supply in the region.

Franklin PUD added that it also plans to propose a new rate structure for miners as a response to their high demands.

The decision marks Franklin  as the latest county in the state to have restricted applications from cryptocurrency miners, which have been increasingly drawn to the low electricity costs in the area, as well as a relatively cooler weather – all of which helps miners maximize their return on investment.

Early this year, both Chelan and Mason counties also issued similar freezes on new cryptocurrency mining operations.

In April, Chelan also cut off electricity to three “unauthorized” farms that local officials said posed a risk to public safety.

Elsewhere, New York State officials have already cleared the way for local utilities to charge higher rates for cryptocurrency miners from March, following debates on how the operations can bring value to local communities.

Washington power cables via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Canada’s DMG Blockchain Starts Installing 85 MW Substation for Crypto Mining Expansion

Canada-based DMG Blockchain Solutions has launched the installation of an 85-megawatt substation for crypto mining expansion, according to an official statement July 26. The DMG crypto mining operation will be implemented on an industrial scale with direct support from the local government and electricity providers.

DMG Blockchain Solutions is a multi-sector crypto and blockchain firm that manages and provides Bitcoin mining and hosting in addition to blockchain platform development.

The flagship mining facility is set to become fully operational in September 2018 with 60 megawatts available for energizing mining rigs, and will reportedly be one the largest mining facilities in North America.

Electricity

DMG Blockchain preparing the site. Source: DMG Blockchain Twitter

According to the statement, the 85-megawatt substation will be connected to the utility power grid, and will increase DMG’s hosting capability by more than 20 times.

Crypto mining facilities and electricity access will be provided for its Mining-as-a-Service (MaaS) clients, as well as for DMG’s own use. This “hybrid approach” will ostensibly allow the company to grow faster by combining the capital needs and investor returns of the traditional mining model with the low capital needs and steady revenue of the MaaS model.

Canada is has become a leader in crypto mining due to its low energy costs. According to provincial power utility Hydro Quebec, the province has an energy surplus equivalent to 100 Terawatt hours over 10 years and offers some of the lowest electricity rates in North America.

Recently, Hydro Quebec proposed a new regime that requires miners to bid for electricity, seeking to allocate up to 500 megawatts, in addition to 120 megawatts of already existing initiatives.

Earlier this month, Toronto-based Bitcoin mining company Hut 8 announced it has completed its second mining site in the country, making the company the world’s “largest publicly-traded” operator at capacity of capacity of 66.7 megawatts.

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New Power Rates Approved for Crypto Miners in Upstate New York

A municipal utility provider in New York got the green light from state regulators to create a new set of electricity rates for cryptocurrency miners.

The move by the The New York State Public Service Commission was announced Thursday, allowing the Massena Electric Department to “allow high-density load customers, such as cryptocurrency companies, to qualify for service under an individual service agreement.”

While primarily an administrative move, it’s a potentially significant development for cryptocurrency miners hoping to tap the hydroelectrical resources located in New York.

A senior official for the commission said that the decision was based on a desire to balance the need to charge “fair” rates while also attracting business to the region.

Commission chairman John Rhodes said in a statement:

“We must ensure that business customers pay a fair price for the electricity that they consume. However, given the abundance of low-cost electricity in upstate New York, there is an opportunity to serve the needs of existing customers and to encourage economic development in the region.”

The newly approved rule will allow any electricity customers with a maximum demand of electricity over 300 kilowatt-hours to qualify for service under a negotiated contract. The contracts will be reviewed by Massena’s municipal utility and must “protect existing customers from increased supply costs resulting from the new service.”

Thursday’s move wasn’t the first of its kind out of the Commission – earlier this year, the body approved a bid to levy miners with higher rates in the form of a new tariff.

The decision came in response to a petition filed by the New York Municipal Power Agency (NYMPA), which expressed concern that local residents may experience higher rates due to the higher-than-average consumption rates of miners.

Image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Montana County Delays Decision on Bitcoin Mining Suspension

A county in the U.S. state of Montana that is weighing whether it should halt new and expanded bitcoin mining initiatives now won’t make a final decision until at least August.

The Missoula County Commission held a public hearing on Thursday aimed to decide on a proposed one-year suspension of new mining initiatives, but postponed the ruling as it was decided that more information is needed to address relevant concerns, according to the Missoulian.

While supporters of bitcoin mining farms argued that such operations created jobs for local residents, others expressed concerns the noise generated by bitcoin mining may undermine local property values and that excessive energy consumption could cause hikes in electricity rates, the report states.

Following the hearing, county commissioners Jean Curtiss and Cola Rowley noted that more education and outreach would be needed before issuing the moratorium, as the committee still doesn’t fully understand “all the impacts in the future or the long game.”

The proposed suspension notably comes a year after the Montana became the first state in the U.S. to provide public funds to a bitcoin mining farm in a bid to boost employment opportunities.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, the state government awarded a grant of $416,000 to Missoula County in June of last year to support a mining project called Spokane.

Like the neighboring state of Washington, Montana has been an attractive base for bitcoin mining operations due to its cold weather, which reduces the need for artificial cooling of mining rigs, and more affordable power costs, the report said.

Yet, recently, officials from two counties in Washington state – Mason and Chelan – said they have temporarily stopped taking in new applications from bitcoin mining projects due to the spiking electricity demands associated with such operations.

Electric grid image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.