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Softbank Eyes Carbon Emissions Cuts with Green Energy Blockchain Pilot

In bid to reduce carbon emissions, a group of Japanese technology and energy firms is launching a pilot project aimed to allow consumers in rural areas to trade renewable energy over a blockchain-based platform.

Scheduled to start in June this year and endorsed by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment, the project will be supervised by energy trading startup Power Sharing with technological support provided by energy corporations such as Tokyo Electric Power Co. and financial giant Softbank, according to a statement released Monday.

Softbank said it will lend its capacity in authenticating critical information about renewable energy trading, such as “who, what, when, where, how much.” That data and the energy trades will then be recorded and transacted over the blockchain platform jointly developed by the partners.

The hope, according to the statement, is to use this customer-to-customer mechanism to incentivize residents in rural Japan to switch to renewable energy, of which they can sell any excess capacity, as part of Japan’s effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

While traditional centralized systems can also provide a platform for renewable energy trading, the partners explained that they become extremely complex if used across general consumers. As such, existing systems are limited to large corporations.

The pilot, while still months away, marks the latest attempt by established corporations to utilize blockchain technology in helping reduce CO2 emissions in the energy sector.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, technology giant IBM has already started exploring the use of a blockchain platform in pushing energy-intensive corporations in China to trade their unused CO2 emission quotas, as part of the country’s wider effort to combat air pollution.

Solar panels image via Shutterstock

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China's Sinochem Completes Gasoline Export Over Blockchain System

Chinese petrochemical conglomerate Sinochem Group has succeeded in utilizing blockchain technology to carry out a gasoline export.

The trial shipment was completed by the group’s subsidiary, Sinochem Energy Technology, and traveled from the Chinese city of Quanzhou to Singapore, Xinhua said on Monday.

The state-owned corporation reportedly claimed that the trial shipment marks the first time that a blockchain-based commodity trading system has included all the central parties in the process.

Sinochem has previously experimented with blockchain technology, announcing in December that it had completed China’s “first simulated transaction of blockchain crude oil import business from the Middle East.”

At that time, the group said the simulation indicated that digital bills of lading and smart contracts could streamline crude oil transactions, “optimizing 20-30 percent of financing costs.”

It remarked in its December statement,

“The standardization and platformization of the blockchain technology enabled trade in China’s petrochemical industry in the future will help improve the transparency of the transaction business in China’s petrochemical industry and enhance the overall risk management level of the industry.”

The global energy sector has demonstrated considerable interest in blockchain technology, with several major corporations exploring blockchain-based energy trading platforms. Major oil companies BP and Eni started experimenting with one such platform for gas trading in June of 2017.

European energy giants Enel and E.on have also conducted trials using a blockchain platform developed by IT firm Ponton, and one of Australia’s largest electricity providers is currently testing a platform called Power Ledger.

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TEPCO Invests in Blockchain Startup in Bid to Decentralize Systems

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has invested in blockchain startup Electron.

The Japanese energy giant announced it had invested in the U.K. startup at the end of last year, according to a press release published on Friday. The two companies say they plan to develop uses of the tech around energy distribution, with the goal of creating a more efficient and reliable infrastructure.

Shin-ichiro Kengaku, TEPCO’s managing executive officer and chief of global innovation and investments, said in a statement:

“We are excited to work with Electron to explore and obtain additional know-how on blockchain that has the potential to significantly impact the energy market. We believe it is very important to continuously seek new opportunities and create new value for society.”

TEPCO has had a long-standing interest in blockchain systems, particularly after the destruction of its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011 following a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami. TEPCO revealed last year, as previously reported by CoinDesk, that it had partnered with Grid+, an ethereum startup that is developing a platform to allow for consumers to pre-pay for power.

Back in May, TEPCO became a member of the Energy Web Foundation, a non-profit initiative aimed at promoting the use of blockchain in the energy space.

“Blockchain technology can be used to reduce the cost of utility bills. It also has the potential to play a game-changing role in the energy sector by allowing millions of energy devices to transact with each other,” the firm said at the time.

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European Energy Firms Trial Blockchain Trading Marketplace

Two European energy providers tested a new blockchain-based trading platform earlier this month.

Italian gas and electricity firm Enel and Germany-based E.On conducted the trial using technology developed by IT firm Ponton, according to statements.

Like other trials of its kind that have taken place in recent months, the energy firms explored how peer-to-peer trading can facilitate direct sales of power. The idea is the technology could help reduce the costs associated with power distribution intermediaries and provide more transparency to the process.

The test initiative formed part of the “Enerchain” initiative, a broader attempt baked by 30 European utility providers. Some of the earlier work was made public in May, according to a Bloomberg report at the time.

In statements, representatives from the firms involved with the latest trial struck an optimistic tone about the prospects for the tech in the energy space.

“The Enerchain initiative is a good example of open, cross-industry collaboration. We all believe in the enormous potential that blockchain technology has for the new energy world and especially for our customers,” Matthew Timms, E.On’s Chief Digital Officer said in a press release.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, blockchain potential use cases for the energy sector include peer-to-peer (P2P) trading networks, customer billing, and renewable energy certificates.

Further, European energy giants are not the only companies looking to blockchain to facilitate decentralization.

Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), for example, has been moving to explore applications of the tech. As its venture capital director, Jeffrey Char, told CoinDesk, the firm is looking at how it could shift the country’s centralized nuclear power system to a more decentralized model.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.