Tech 1 November 2017

Dan Taylor

US Government Labs exploring Blockchain Tech for energy

A US government research laboratory has announced it is investigating blockchain technology with a view to developing an application to manage smart power grids, in a move that could become increasingly more common across government departments.

The plans were unveiled before a meeting of the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the Congressional body responsible for scrutinizing policy in this area.

Prepared by US Department of Energy manager, Carl Imhoff, the plans suggested blockchain technology could be used to facilitate peer-to-peer energy exchange, amidst a raft of other new innovations.

It follows on from research efforts at the Department for Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where Imhoff and his team have been examining blockchain systems for a range of applications for energy provision and distribution.

In a prepared statement, he described some of the possible use cases for the technology, in addition to disclosing the outline of the plans under consideration at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“PNNL is currently working with DOE and industry partners to determine the optimal use of such resilient data concepts as blockchain in emerging market constructs such as transactive energy…[Blockchain] could be a part of grid modernization efforts, encourage distributed power generation and storage systems, and help secure emerging market constructs.”

According to Imhoff’s statement, the proposals could harness the distributed nature of blockchain infrastructure to overhaul distribution and funding within the energy market.

Energy has emerged as one sector ripe for the benefits of the blockchain, with numerous applications and use cases currently under development.

These include projects like those in the hands of government, as well as the efforts of several notable blockchain startups, and follow on from the first successful energy trade on the distributed server processing system ethereum back in August 2016.

The Department of Energy has previously ventured into blockchain research, including inviting proposals for specific blockchain use cases for energy systems back in January of this year.

Notably keen on the technology, the news from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory could be the first of many blockchain implementation projects from the Department of Energy, as wider efforts to modernize public administration continue to gain momentum.

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