British multinational utility firm Centrica announced plans to invest in further development and utilities’ adoption of blockchain technology.The energy company through its Centrica Innovations and in partnership with Braemar Energy will invest in US-based blockchain firm LO3. According to reports, LO3 has developed its blockchain technology to enable peer-to-peer energy trading. The technology stores and processes transactional data regarding consumers' onsite energy generation, storage and trading.
Following the trial of the technology in a microgrid developed in Brooklyn, New York, Lawrence Orsini, CEO at LO3, states that blockchain technology is the “key to unlocking the real potential of distributed generation”.
“Our Brooklyn microgrid has proven that our blockchain-based hardware and software technology is ready to be taken to the next level, allowing consumers to become ‘prosumers’, with the ability to determine how they generate, consume, store and sell their energy to the grid.”
As utilities increase their presence in the distributed energy resources market under efforts to make grid networks smarter, reduce carbon emissions and improve customer services by providing consumers with affordable energy, Centrica is planning to use the solution to optimise operations.
Christophe Defert, ventures director at Centrica Innovations, said the use of the solution will help the utility to provide consumers with more flexibility as well as help them improve their efficiency.
L03 will use the investment to improve the capabilities of the technology as well as implement trial projects at a global scale.
Centrica and energy start-ups
In late August, Centrica's investment fund Ignite provided UK-based energy management start-up, Grid Edge, with £200,000 to commercialise its artificial intelligence-based solution.
According to a statement, Grid Edge was founded in 2012 by three researchers: Tom Anderson, Dr Jim Scott and Dr Dan Wright, who by that time were working at Aston University with the European Bioenergy Research Institute.
The cloud-based solution has been designed over a period of three years to help reduce energy consumption in large commercial buildings by up to 25%. The solution uses AI to provide operators of buildings with forecasts of a building's energy requirements over a period of four hours.
The solution's developer claims the solution has a role to play in reducing carbon emissions and in helping consumers to reduce their energy bills and utilities to stabilise grid networks during peak demand.
Tom Anderson, Grid Edge CEO, said: “This investment is a game-changer for us. We can now focus on accelerating our product development and establishing a real footprint in the commercial market. Our ambition is to be in more than 500 large-scale buildings within five years."
Sam Salisbury, Investment Principal for Ignite, added: “We believe Grid Edge is a fantastic example of an enterprise that could truly benefit society, which is the key reason why we’re backing the team.
“The technology could have huge potential for the commercial and public sector and we’re particularly excited about the opportunity it offers housing associations and local authorities; helping them to cut carbon emissions, reach energy efficiency targets and create warmer, healthier places for tenants to live.”
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