Shell invests in New York-based blockchain clean energy startup

Oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell, commonly known as Shell, has invested an undisclosed amount in a New York-based clean energy startup. The company, considered the fifth largest in the world, joined Japanese trading giant Sumitomo Corporation to invest in LO3 Energy. The startup’s blockchain platform powers peer-to-peer energy platforms.

LO3 operates the Exergy platform, which tracks the flow of energy as it’s added to a shared, local energy network. The Ethereum-based platform makes it possible for its users to verify with certainty that the energy they consume is sourced from renewable sources including windmills and solar energy panels.

With the investment, Shell Ventures Investment Director Kirk Coburn joins the startup as a board observer and could join the board as a member following future investments. Speaking to Forbes, he stated, “We see that it’s society’s ambition to live in a lower-carbon environment. LO3 is a platform that enables that.”

Tokyo-based Sumitomo Corporation also participated in the investment round. Norihiko Nonaka, the CEO, stated in a press release, “Under drastic change and innovation in the power sector, especially rapid penetration of decentralized renewable energy, we have the intention to expand our business into the new field created by LO3 Energy. We will work together and support LO3 Energy’s further growth which can realize a clean, environmentally sound community.”

LO3’s platform is still in beta, and the company hopes to use the investment to launch next year. Once it launches, its users will have the ability to control when to use local clean energy resources as well as the sources they wish to purchase from.

The startup, which has employed 35 people in three continents, has designed its Ethereum-based blockchain platform to integrate with other blockchains, with the first one to consider being EOS. Ben Conte, a director at LO3 told Forbes, “We are building a custom blockchain combining the best of what existing blockchain communities have already accomplished.”

The clean energy industry is growing rapidly and the startup is in a prime position to take advantage of this growth. CEO Lawrence Orsini stated, “Energy is going through a revolution with renewable distributed energy resources fast replacing fossil fuels—but to integrate them efficiently we need to re-invent our energy networks. These investments will help us accelerate the roll-out of our microgrids, which help put all stakeholders benefit through local energy transactions and demand response energy management on a building-by-building level.”

LO3 hopes to finally put an end to the uncertainty that consumers have when purchasing clean energy. While many companies claim to sell clean renewable energy, it’s almost impossible to assess the truth to these claims. To tackle this, LO3 uses a public blockchain as well as enabling customers to purchase energy from local sources. As an additional perk to the consumers, they can be assured that their money is contributing to the growth of the local areas, Orsini explained.

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