The Potential of Blockchain Technology for a Smarter, More Sustainable Smart Grid

Álvaro Llobet
February 7, 2023

The smart grid is a vital component of our modern economy's digital infrastructure. However, it is also an energy system that is ready for change. 

In response to climate-related extreme weather events, utilities and power producers are developing new strategies for modernizing the electric grid.

With the economy electrifying and decarbonizing, grid modernization technologies can also assist utilities in managing increased loads and bringing new centralized generation and storage online.

In this piece, we'll look at how blockchain technology may be applied to build a smarter, more sustainable grid.

What is the Smart Grid?

The smart grid is a digital network that enables communication between utilities and consumers. It is a complex system that includes grid-connected devices and sensors, as well as software that can monitor and control the flow of electricity. The smart grid has the potential to transform the way we generate, distribute, and use energy. It can help us move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources and make the power system more efficient and reliable.

smart grid illustration

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions hosted a webinar in October 2022 to discuss how grid modernization can withstand increasingly intense conditions. The panelists also discussed how technology can assist in addressing climate challenges and barriers blocking its implementation.

Here are key points for stakeholders in the grid transformation:

  • The electric grid needs to be modernized to deal with the consequences of climate change and increasing demand from electric vehicles.
  • Innovation is happening at the boundaries of power grids, including distributed power resources and energy storages, user-end gadgets, and automation. This will give utilities control over the grid, benefiting them in extreme climate conditions.
  • Utility industry partners and services are increasing, including tech and car firms. Grid operators and utilities must collaborate to prepare for EVs' high demand for power.
  • Utilities now need to finance and deploy advanced technologies across their distribution networks in a timely manner and to help them move forward with innovation and climate-resilient solutions.
  • Financing grid upgrades is difficult, as the technology becomes obsolete quickly and more investments may be needed. Utilities must develop new economic models, raise awareness, and secure funding.

Main Problems of the Renewable Energy Sector

A major barrier to the adoption of renewable energy technologies is their high upfront costs. But other challenges need to be addressed for renewables to scale.

The intermittency of wind and solar power is one of the main challenges facing the renewable energy sector. Because the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow, renewable energy sources can't always meet our energy needs. This is why we need a reliable backup source of power, such as natural gas, to supplement renewables.

Another challenge facing renewables is the fact that they often require more land than traditional energy sources. For example, a wind farm needs a large area of land to generate enough power to meet our needs. This can be a challenge in places where land is already in high demand, such as densely populated areas.

Finally, the environmental impacts of renewable energy technologies need to be considered. Although renewables are often considered “green," some technologies, such as large-scale solar farms, can significantly impact the environment.

Despite these challenges, the potential of renewable energy is huge. With the right policies in place, renewables can play a major role in our transition to a low-carbon future.

Benefits of Digital Transformation In the Renewable Energy Sector

The renewable energy sector is in the midst of a digital transformation. This shift is driven by the need to increase the efficiency and reliability of the power grid, as well as reduce the environmental impact of energy production.

The ability to collect and analyze data more effectively is one of the main benefits of digital transformation. By collecting data on everything from weather patterns to the output of individual solar panels, we can gain a better understanding of how the renewable energy system is performing. The data can then be used to improve the system's efficiency.

The digital transformation is also helping us move away from traditional centralized models of power generation and towards a more decentralized system, generating power closer to where it is needed and reducing the environmental impact of the renewable energy sector.

Renewable Energy for a Decentralized, People-Centered Energy Transition

The renewable energy transition is often seen as a centralized, top-down process, with utilities and governments driving the shift from fossil fuels to clean renewables. However, this doesn't have to be the case.

A decentralized, people-centered approach to the energy transition can provide many benefits:

  • Engage people in the transition process and to build a sense of ownership over the energy system.
  • Can make use of local knowledge and resources and be tailored to the specific needs of a community.
  • Can aid in creating a more fair and just energy system. This is because it gives people more control over their energy usage and can help address the issue of energy poverty.

Impact of Blockchain Technology on Smart Grids

Energy use is changing on a global scale due to the emergence of renewable energy, the growing electrification of transportation, and the demand for a more efficient and reliable power grid. 

One technology that is often seen as key to this transition is blockchain, a distributed database that allows secure, transparent, and tamper-proof transactions.

Blockchain can also help us improve the efficiency of the smart grid. For example, it can create smart contracts that execute transactions automatically. By doing so, data can be shared instantly, and transactions can be executed without manual intervention.

Blockchain can also help us create a more secure smart grid by creating a decentralized network that is not controlled by any one central authority. This makes it an ideal technology for managing the smart grid.

Blockchain seems to be ideally suited to make the transition to a sustainable energy system, increasing grid efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of energy production.

MARCO Track & Trace enables end-to-end supply chain traceability

Finboot developed MARCO, the first no-code/low-code platform designed to simplify blockchain for business users. MARCO is a blockchain-agnostic platform and has been designed to empower users to rapidly experiment and validate the immediate benefits of using blockchain to efficiently move into live production - at scale. 

Within MARCO there is Track & Trace, a solution that provides trusted connections  between stakeholders in a supply chain, gathering and sharing data, creating digital product passports and supporting accurate reporting.

The solution also promotes collaboration insights providing near real time supply chain monitoring. Full communication with other stakeholders, helping you take the right decisions at the right time. Reduce lead time, improve stockage, receive early warning signs and improve your sustainability impact.

Perhaps what’s most important, is that MARCO Track & Trace has already been validated in a wide range of sectors, including Oil & Energy, Chemicals, Construction, Mining and Aviation, among others. Its strong customer base includes Repsol, SABIC, Iberia to name a few.

MARCO TRACK & TRACE, enables trusted shared record-keeping between stakeholders in a supply chain.

  • Digital product passports: end-to-end supply chain visibility, asset digitalisation and tracking (provenance, quality, and compliance data in a secure and easily shareable environment).
  • ESG and sustainability reporting: traceability of renewables including management of sustainability credits to help substantiate ESG claims (automated mass balance bookkeeping integrated to production and sales ops and systems). 
  • Invoice reconciliation: using smart contracts for supplier communications and automated business rules validation. 

To know more about MARCO Track & Trace, download for free our ebook: 

¨Unlock Web3 with MARCO: Pioneer no-code/low-code platform for blockchain powered digital ecosystems¨.