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Honda And GM to Research Smart Grid, Electric Car Interoperability With Blockchain Tech

Major automobile manufacturers Honda and GM are jointly working on a blockchain project for electric vehicles with smart grids.

Major automobile manufacturers Honda and General Motors (GM) are jointly conducting research on electric vehicle and smart grid interoperability using blockchain tech, Japanese news outlet Nikkei reported on May 20.

As part of the project, Honda and GM will investigate whether electric vehicles can be used to stabilize the supply of energy in smart grids. Specifically, the companies intend to develop data retrieval methods between electric vehicles and smart grids, which will purportedly enable electric vehicles owners to earn fees from storing power in car batteries and exchanging it with the grid.

The parties will work within the international technology consortium Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), that aims to make mobility services more efficient. The platform was launched in early May and is the brainchild of over thirty participants including Bosch, Hyperledger, IBM and IOTA.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, GM filed a blockchain patent for a solution to manage data from autonomous vehicles. The system aims to provide “secure” and “robust” data distribution and interoperable exchange between multiple automated vehicles and other entities, such as municipalities, regional authorities, and public facilities.

The American automotive giant also became the joined blockchain startup Spring Labs’ partner project to enhance data security.

Among other leading car manufacturers that are embracing blockchain technology, Mercedes-Benz developed a blockchain platform that allows for the storage of documentation and contracts in complex supply chains.

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ABB Launches Blockchain Pilot for Solar Energy Sector

Energy tech company ABB has launched a pilot project to investigate how blockchain can advance the solar energy market.

International electrical engineering company ABB has rolled out a blockchain pilot to explore how the technology could promote the role of solar energy in peer-to-peer (p2p) energy trading, technology-focused media outlet PV Tech reported on May 16.

To implement the project, ABB collaborated with Italian energy aggregator Evolvere to deploy a blockchain it jointly developed with blockchain-based platform Prosume. The pilot will purportedly enable transparent and secure p2p energy transactions, as well research blockchain’s role in the smart grids market.

ABB told PV Tech that the project’s objective is to make blockchain-ready inverters so energy market participants can reduce both capital and operational expenditure costs. Giampiero Frisio, head of ABB’s smart power business, said, “the Evolvere project has allowed us to develop viable and proven solutions for the market in anticipation of new dynamics and regulatory frameworks coming in to place for blockchain technology.”

ABB Group is involved in several “smart” and renewable energy projects, including smart gas and electric cars. ABB has operations in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. In 2018, the firm had an operating revenue of over $28.5 billion.

Blockchain has been gaining traction in the energy sector around the world. Earlier this month, American blockchain startup Data Gumbo Corp. raised $6 million from major energy companies, including the venture wing of Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company Saudi Aramco. The investors purportedly expect Data Gumbo’s blockchain-as-a-service platform to improve oil and gas supply chains by eliminating disputes and enabling automated payments.

In April, Austria’s largest energy provider, Wien Energie, developed a blockchain-driven fridge in partnership with tech giant Bosch. The main goal behind the project is to increase consumer interest in the sustainable consumption of energy. A blockchain solution in this case allows one to choose the source of the energy, be that a solar panel or a wind power plant.

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Blockchain Firm Raises $6 Mln From Major Energy Companies, Saudi Aramco Subsidiary

Data Gumbo Corp. has raised $6 million from major energy companies, including the venture wing of Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company Saudi Aramco.

American blockchain startup Data Gumbo Corp. has raised $6 million from major energy companies, including the venture wing of Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company Saudi Aramco. The news was published by energy-focused news outlet Worldoil on May 8.

In a Series A equity funding round, Data Gumbo ostensibly raised $6 million from companies such as Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, the venture subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, and Equinor Technology Ventures, the venture subsidiary of Equinor, a Norwegian multinational energy operator. The new investment purportedly brings Data Gumbo’s total funding up to $9.3 million.

The funds will be used for developing Data Gumbo’s commercial blockchain network and adding to the company’s technical, sales, and marketing teams. The investors purportedly expect Data Gumbo’s blockchain-as-a-service platform to improve oil and gas supply chains by eliminating disputes and enabling automated payments, as well decreasing reconciliation times between supply chain counterparts.

Daniel Carter, Senior Investment Director at Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, said that “distributed ledger technologies have the potential to bring win-win efficiencies between industrial companies and their suppliers.”

Recently, the Russian prime minister welcomed an initiative to use blockchain in agreements over gas supplies by the country’s state-owned gas giant Gazprom. The blockchain-based platform reportedly intends to allow data sharing between all the participants of a certain contract, as well as to improve the security of data.

In March, seven global oil and gas firms, including American industry giants ExxonMobil and Chevron, partnered to form the Oil & Gas Blockchain Consortium. The initiative intends to conduct proofs of concept in order to explore and apply the benefits of blockchain, as well as contribute to global adoption of the tech.

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Winklevoss Capital Invests in Firm Using Natural Gas to Fuel Crypto Mining Data Centers

Winklevoss Capital has participated in a $4.5 million seed financing round in the flare mitigation provider.

The Winklevoss twins’ family office, Winklevoss Capital, has participated in a $4.5 million seed financing round for flare mitigation provider Crusoe Energy Systems Inc. to advance its construction of data centers that can mine cryptocurrencies. The news was reported by Bloomberg on May 3.

Flare mitigation — as a Crusoe press release accompanying the seed financing round outlines — aims to reduce the environmentally noxious impact of flaring (burning off) surplus natural gas, which is in some cases used to tackle the difficulties of transporting excess gas supplies.

While flaring is restricted by regulatory restrictions and lobbying from environmentalist groups, flare mitigation solutions can help resolve the problem of excess supply by converting the natural gas into electrical power at the wellsite.

The fresh financing round for Crusoe Energy Systems— led by Bain Capital Ventures and Founders Fund Pathfinder — will aim to accelerate the construction of the firm’s mobile modular data centers. As the press release outlines:

“Technologies for flare mitigation […] are capable of handling the large-scale gas throughputs required by today’s North American shale industry. Crusoe’s technology harnesses otherwise wasted energy for growing industries that require energy intensive computing, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence.”

The systems are said to be scalable to up to millions of cubic feet per day and deployable across North America. In an emailed statement to Bloomberg, Winklevoss Capital Sterling Witzke reportedly stated:

“Crusoe Energy is in a unique position to reduce the cost of cloud computing and cryptocurrency mining. Their technology is a win-win for the environment, energy producers, and the digital economy.”

According to Bloomberg’s interview with Crusoe co-founder Chase Lochmiller, the company is working with — undisclosed — large publicly traded oil and gas companies.

As Cointelegraph has previously reported, the high energy consumption required by the mining of certain cryptocurrencies has sparked intense debate within the crypto community and beyond.

In late summer 2018, a clean energy expert hit back against the common perception that energy intensivity is in “Achilles Heel” for bitcoin (BTC), arguing that the debate needs to be reoriented to focus on the sources of electrical power, rather than consumption levels.

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Canadian Regulator Introduces New Rules for Crypto Mining

Quebec energy regulator Régie de l’énergie has released new rules for cryptocurrency miners.

Régie de l’énergie, the energy regulator of the Canadian province of Quebec, has released new rules for cryptocurrency miners. The development was announced by major Canadian electricity provider Hydro-Quebec on April 29.

Under the new regulations, the Régie de l’énergie has ordered power producer Hydro-Quebec to allocate 300 megawatts (MW) to the blockchain industry. “This 300 MW will be in addition to the 158 MW already granted to existing customers approved by Hydro-Quebec, and to the 210 MW granted to existing customers approved by municipal distributors,” the announcement further explains.

In order to receive some of the specially allocated power, companies must pass a selection process where they are graded on four criteria including the number of jobs created in Quebec, total payroll of direct jobs, the value of investments and heat recovery. Hydro-Quebec says in the release that the new rules will enable the organization to protect the low rates it offers to customers.

Canada has been recognized as a leading cryptocurrency nation based on its innovation, low energy costs, high internet speed and favorable regulatory regime. In late July of last year, Hydro-Quebec revealed that the province had an energy surplus equivalent to 100 terawatt hours over 10 years and offers some of the lowest electricity rates in North America.

Last June, Hydro-Quebec proposed new rules, under which blockchain-related companies will be required to bid for electricity and quantify the jobs and investment they expect to generate per megawatt.

Recently, the Ontario town of Innisfil, Canada, announced it is running a pilot program which will enable residents to pay property taxes with bitcoin (BTC), with possible extensions to other cryptocurrencies including ether (ETH), litecoin (LTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), and ripple (XRP) at a later date.

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Montana County Adopts Regulation Requiring Crypto Miners to Use Renewable Energy

The United States county of Missoula, in Montana, has adopted previously discussed regulation of cryptocurrency mining.

The United States county of Missoula, in the state of Montana, has adopted regulation for cryptocurrency mining, local media outlet the Missoulian reports on April 5.

Per the report, the Missoula County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to impose new rules for local cryptocurrency mining operations. As Cointelegraph reported last month, when the regulation was first proposed, the draft of the rules stated that they aim “to protect the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of county residents.”

The focus of the new law is seemingly on the possible effects of cryptocurrency mining on global warming and electronic waste. Also, from now on, crypto miners in the county will be able to establish their operations only in light industrial and heavy industrial districts and only after they have been reviewed and approved as a conditional use.

Miners will also need to provide certification that all electronic waste generated will be handled by a Department of Environmental Quality-licensed recycling firm. Another new rule established in the county requires miners to use exclusively renewable energy.

Lastly, preexisting mining operations that aren’t compliant will be allowed to continue but won’t be authorized for expansion if they don’t conform with the new regulations. The draft specified that the rules will be effective as of April 4, 2019 and until April 3, 2020.

The Missoulian notes that the county’s staff claim mining company Hyperblock currently uses as much electricity as one-third of all homes in the county and plans to triple its power usage.

Hyperblock reportedly purchases hydroelectric power to fuel its endeavors, but the commissioners reportedly argued that it displaces other potential renewable energy buyers. County commissioner Dave Strohmaier purportedly commented:

“Near as I can tell cryptocurrency is using exponentially more energy; it’s a grotesque amount of energy and we’ve got to take steps to address it. […] We’ve got to utilize new renewables if we’re going to address climate change.”

Hyperblock manager Dan Stivers defends the company by stating that it has always used only renewable energy and that it could have used electricity obtained by burning coal since it was cheaper. Stivers also claims that Hyperblock uses a licensed recycler to deal with its electronic waste, adding:

“Somehow none of that’s enough. It is a viable business model and if we had not moved in as anchor tenants, there would be no Bonner mill as we see it today.”

According to the Missoulian, a lawyer for the company hinted that it may file a lawsuit over the regulation in the future.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, the secretary of Hong Kong’s Financial Services and the Treasury has stated that crypto mining operations are regulated by local trading law.

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Report: Crypto Miner Hut 8 Lays Off More Staff

Hut 8 crypto mining, which runs a joint venture in Alberta with Bitfury, has reportedly laid off more staff.

Canadian Bitcoin (BTC) mining  firm Hut 8 has reportedly laid off employees at its facilities in the province of Alberta, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reports April 4.

Hut 8’s crypto mining facilities in Drumheller and Medicine Hat are part of a joint venture with European crypto mining hardware firm Bitfury.  

A former employee at the Drumheller facility told the CBC that he was laid off along with two dozen colleagues in January. He reportedly stated that the company reduced its staff by around 25% globally at the time, while teams in Alberta have faced even bigger layoffs.

The cuts in staff reportedly come as a result of the 2018 bear market and increased electricity costs in the region. However, the staff reductions have purportedly exceeded expectations, with the layoffs reportedly accounting for half of the data center operations crews, the CBC says.

Founded in 2017, Toronto-based Hut 8 has reportedly mined 7,300 Bitcoin (BTC) to date.

Bitfury has not confirmed layoffs to CBC, declining to comment on the number of employees laid off this week, or in January. However, a Bitfury spokesperson stated that the layoffs were part of an effort to streamline operations.

Hut 8 reported a record revenue in Q3 2018, stating that its revenue was as high as $13.5 million, and $27.7 million for the nine months ending on Sep. 30, 2018. However, it also experienced a net operating loss of $8.3 million.

Recently, biotech company turned mining firm Riot Blockchain reported a 2018 net loss of about $58 million in its financial report.

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Austria’s Largest Energy Provider Develops Blockchain Fridge With Bosch

Wien Energie has announced their new blockchain fridge, developed with Bosch, as part of a sustainable energy consumption experiment.

Austria’s largest energy provider, Wien Energie, has developed a blockchain-driven fridge in partnership with tech giant Bosch, Cointelegraph’s correspondent reported from the ANON Blockchain Summit Austria.

Wien Energie presented the new model during the crypto conference in Vienna on April 3. The official release claims that the decentralized technology is used in the construction of a refrigerator for the first time.

The main goal behind the project is to increase consumer interest in the sustainable consumption of energy. A blockchain solution in this case allows one to choose the source of the energy, be that a solar panel or a wind power plant. Each kilowatt used by the fridge can be traced to its origin, the release reads.

Moreover, the blockchain fridge can be fully operated via smartphone. A user is able to control the temperature of the fridge and freezer, check whether the door is properly closed, and trace the energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

According to the official statement, the model is not yet on sale. Wien Energie and Bosch will first test the blockchain fridge with three pilot customers in the coming months.

Wien Energie CEO Peter Gönitzer considers blockchain a great opportunity to reduce the unnecessary waste of energy, the release notes. According to him, the decentralized ecosystem could contribute to creating a transparent and user-friendly energy market.

Moreover, the Austrian company also plans to trial blockchain implementation in the energy sector on a larger scale. The firm has already partnered with blockchain interface company Riddle & Code to deploy decentralized infrastructure in an unnamed urban development area.

Per release, the concept has already been developed, and the trial will start within a few months with the participation of about 100 residents. The project, above all, is set to find out which smart energy tariffs will function in the area.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, Wien Energie announced in March that it is considering launching a charger for electric cars based on distributed ledger technology. The trial for the aforementioned project is also conducted together with Riddle & Code: the companies are testing an electric vehicle charging station with integrated secure machine identity in Vienna.