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The North American Energy Standards Boards (NAESB) puts blockchain and cybersecurity at the front of digital technology standardisation drive.

The decision for a continued focus in these areas from the NAESB Board of Directors comes with the approval of a report from the Board’s Digital Committee on digitalisation in the energy sector.

The report reviews eleven technologies being implemented in the sector.

Distributed ledger technology is identified as an emerging high interest and high value area for standards development within NAESB. Overall, it was agreed that while caution should be used with immature and developing technologies, it is important that NAESB remains active in the development of supportive standards and continues involvement as the energy industry continues to adopt applications for the technology.

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The report notes that many potential benefits of the technology have been identified, including improved cybersecurity, increased transparency and efficiency and a reduction in the operational and administrative costs of supporting transactional processes.

There was also recognition that standards are emerging in other markets, including the financial sector, and that the energy industry would benefit from defining how the technology is standardised for its unique transactions.

Other recommendations are that NAESB should explore the potential for the development of standards that support the use of distributed ledger technology for transactions related to distributed energy resources.

Moreover, NAESB should continue to monitor emerging standards development efforts within the energy industry to ensure that duplicative efforts of others are avoided and where appropriate standards development in coordinated.

On cybersecurity, the report says that it is an overarching umbrella area that is pervasive throughout all other areas. Additionally, cybersecurity requirements and impacts have been a consideration in the development of every existing NAESB standard and will continue to be a growing focus of the organisation in the future.

Blockchain gas trading standards

The NAESB has been working on blockchain standards since 2018 with a focus on support for the technology in the wholesale and retail gas and electricity markets.

In July, the Board approved an initial set of standards to enable the natural gas industry to conduct trades under an NAESB gas sale and purchase contract utilising distributed ledger technologies. Their aim is to add efficiency to the existing accounting and reconciliation of natural gas trades by replacing manual processes with automated executions through the use of blockchain.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), one of the movers behind the standards, had reported that gas supply invoice reconciliation was taking on average 21 days. TVA is collaborating with ExxonMobil to pilot the standards to determine the efficiencies that can be gained and other requirements needed to support a uniform implementation of the technology by the industry.

Other technologies and areas reviewed in the digital report include cloud computing, deployable shareware, 5G, energy usage data, data governance requirements, renewable energy certificate tracking, Internet of Things and data analytics.

Moving forward, the NAESB’s Digital Committee says it will continue to explore new technologies and areas related to digital technology so that the organisation can support the transition to more digitalised energy markets.