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Is Energy Data The Real Winner For Blockchain?

Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

UK based machine learning start-up Verv executed the UK’s first physical energy trade on the blockchain in April 2018. Now it’s partnering with Ocean Protocol to develop its longer term goal, an energy information marketplace.

Verv sits in a unique position in the blockchain energy market. As its COO Maria McKavanagh says, the long term goal of the business is to develop a data market. The company has been able to steal a march on its rivals due to its smart hubs, which are already being deployed in the marketplace. McKavanagh says, ‘Our advantage is that we’re already in the home. We sample up to 1m times per second allowing us to forward predict energy needs.’

Most smart meters can’t tell if you’re turning on a kettle or a washing machine, and they’ll consume different amounts of power.’ She says, ‘A Verv home is one that plans for the future, knows its usage profile and buys power at the optimum price.’

First UK peer-to-peer energy trade on the blockchain

The trade took place in April, at Hackney’s Banister House Estate where Verv has a live peer-to-peer energy trading trial underway. The trial is  in collaboration with Repowering London, who had solar panels installed on 13 of the blocks of flats that make up the community back in 2015, creating what is called Banister House Solar.

With the addition of artificial intelligence-based Verv smart hubs in participating residents’ flats, and Powervault batteries in communal areas, Verv’s  platform calculates the energy demand profile of homes, determines the solar energy supply in each storage battery and in turn allocates green power to residents based on their needs. The first trade saw 1kWh of energy being sent from an array of solar panels with excess energy on one of the block’s roofs, to a resident residing in another block within the estate.

The system gets round the energy intensive problem that bitcoin has in proof of work verification by using a proof of authority model instead. This needs trusted validator nodes to confirm the trade on the blockchain ledger.

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