Kansai Electric leads study on blockchain use in distributed electric supply

Four major companies in Japan, led by Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kepco), are coming together to conduct a research on how to harness the power of blockchain technology for distributed electricity supply.

In a statement, Kepco announced that it has partnered with IT service management company Nihon Unisys, Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, and the University of Tokyo for the study. According to the utility company, the partnership was born out of the need for renewable energy sources as well as the necessity to create a sustainable business model. The four groups will be working together to research on the technology with a goal of piloting a blockchain-based project for electricity.

Under the partnership, Mitsubishi UFJ Bank will serve as advisors on the application of blockchain to payments and transactions, while Nihon Unisys will develop the system, with Kansai Electric in charge of constructing and demoing it, and University of Tokyo “will evaluate and summarize the research.” The project’s goal is to allow solar power suppliers to sell surplus electricity to consumers.

“Through this empirical research, we will acquire knowledge on power direct transactions using blockchain technology, and will continue to provide more practical empirical research, such as verification at home and collaboration with financial institutions,” Kepco stated.

Blockchain-based energy trading is spreading across the world, and Asia in particular. In September, Belinda Kincaid, LO3 Energy Australia director revealed that her company was looking into blockchain-based energy trading opportunities in Asia and had plans to announce two new projects in Japan. Meanwhile in Spain, a 300-megawatt cryptocurrency mining farm project will utilise solar energy, with plans to sell the energy to users with the use of middlemen in the future.

The four-way partnership between the four major companies is not the first of such in the country. The Chubu Electric Power Company, Japan’s third-largest energy provider, announced in March that it would partner with Nayuta Inc, a firm based on the Internet of Things (IoT), and software company Infoteria. The partnership focuses on the exploration of the blockchain in tracking electric vehicle charging.

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