Blockchain Could Help Bring Renewable Energy to the Power Grid, Experts Tell Congress
Blockchain technology could help the energy sector secure the power grid and overcome some of the biggest barriers to widespread use of renewable resources, industry experts told lawmakers.
But before that can happen, the government needs to fund more blockchain research and find a way to stop cryptocurrency miners from bogging down rural utility companies, they said.
Energy researchers and blockchain experts on Tuesday highlighted a handful of ways decentralized ledger technology could allow utility companies to better manage the flow of electricity across the power grid.
Wind, solar and other renewable technologies are offering individuals a way to generate their own energy, experts said, and as DIY-power becomes more popular, energy storage is becoming more spread across the grid. As infrastructure becomes increasingly decentralized, blockchain could give companies a means to efficiently track energy usage and generation, they told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“[Blockchain] means a grid that’s no longer centrally controlled and vulnerable to a grid operator attack—it means a market where customers can choose where they buy electricity,” said Claire Henly, managing director of the Energy Web Foundation.
While blockchain solves some of the cyber issues that come with centralized information, other panelists warned it carries its own risks.
“Blockchain technology is not a necessary or core component of cybersecurity,” said Arvind Narayanan, a computer science associate professor at Princeton University. “Policymakers should view it as one tool among many.”
Blockchain allows users to store information on an encrypted ledger that permanently records every exchange. It’s distributed nature makes it useful for keeping tabs on valuable data and ensuring information doesn’t get corrupted, but it’s recently become something of a buzzword in tech circles, where there’s a tendency to see new technology as the cure to every issue.