re:publica Special: BTC-ECHO Searches for Blockchain Innovations

Also on the last day of the re:publica in Berlin BTC-ECHO was there again and looked for blockchain lectures and discussions. If you want to know what the re:publica had to offer in terms of blockchain on the first day, you are welcome to read our part 1.

Bitcoin news in the energy sector

The freelance energy journalist Ralph Diermann gave an exciting insight into which Bitcoin news blockchain solutions would be conceivable in the energy sector and which concrete projects already exist in his lecture „Electricity trading via the garden fence – blockchain in the energy sector“ found here

The disruptive potential of the blockchain in the energy sector is in no way inferior to that in the financial sector, stresses Ralph Diermann. The blockchain is in a position to turn the entire energy sector upside down, albeit in the long term.

The current situation of the Bitcoin formula

Up to now it has not been possible for private individuals to sell Bitcoin formula to other private individuals. If the solar system on the roof produces more electricity than is consumed, the only option is to sell it to the energy service provider at a specified Bitcoin formula. The energy service provider as a third party therefore has full control over the electricity transactions and the offer and sales prices.

It is also not possible to choose the electricity provider flexibly, depending on where the electricity price is currently the cheapest, so that the end device (e.g. washing machine) could automatically choose the cheapest electricity provider. The highly regulated and oligopolistic energy sector is currently still drawing sharp lines for innovations.

Blockchain as a solution
In order to break down these rigid and inflexible structures, the blockchain as a decentralized peer-to-peer solution can give back more autonomy to power consumers and private producers. The blockchain infrastructure is able to switch off the energy service provider in its intermediary function. This would make it possible to trade electricity from solar roofs within a residential area with each other without having to go through the energy supplier.

There are already projects that have put this project into practice. With the help of the Ethereum blockchain, this approach has already been successfully tested in New York (article).

Another model would be the collective financing of a photovoltaic system within a multi-party building. Billing could also be automated using smart contracts.

We have already reported on many projects presented by Ralph Diermann in the past. Who would like to experience more, can read itself gladly the following articles:

Solar storage for grid stability from TenneT and sonnen (article)
Wien Energie (Article)
Share and Charge from (article)
It will be some time before the blockchain has established itself in the energy sector, Diermann says. Regulation and deadlocked structures make rapid disruption unlikely.

Meetup on Non-Financial Blockchain-Use Cases
Meetups were held at the re:publica to ensure that the participants not only listened passively to the speakers in their presentations, but were also actively involved in the discussion. In the small chair circles, everyone was invited to join in the discussion.

The Blockchain-Meetup discussed the question how the Blockchain can be used outside the financial sector and especially in development aid. It quickly became clear that it is not always as simple as it seems at first glance.

Although the implementation of Smart Contracts can enormously accelerate processes and reduce costs, the question remains how to ensure that everything is „fair“ in programming. How can it be ensured that the programmer considers all interests equally and is free of conflicts of interest? How can errors in the Smart Contract be dealt with? What are the risks posed by interfaces to the outside world? No simple questions.

In addition, possible areas of application of the blockchain were discussed in regions whose infrastructure and institutional structure is inadequate for sufficient supply of the population. One example was refugee camps in Jordan, where the UN uses the Ethereum blockchain to distribute relief supplies (article). Another example was the consideration of how insurance policies that run through a blockchain can help earthquake victims.

The many ideas were discussed even after the official time had expired.