02.07.2018 | Blockchain is revolutionising energy trading
Last November, Axpo successfully launched Elblox, the first blockchain platform. What initially started as a pilot project has become an independent start-up that is already planning the first steps toward expansion.
Since the beginning of the year, power consumers living in the southern Ruhr district in Wuppertal can choose the power plant from which they would like to procure eco-friendly electricity, be it a neighbour's solar plant or a regional run-of-river power plant. A unique pioneering project by Axpo and the Wuppertaler Stadtwerke have made it possible.
The Tal.Markt online platform lets public utility customers procure power directly from decentralised energy producers. Consumers can put together their very own power mix. The power flows directly from the selected power plant to the customer. And: What you see is what you get. Thanks to blockchain technology (see box) every kilowatt hour is unique and can be assigned to the respective consumer. The certificate of origin is crystal clear and double entries are eliminated.
Axpo is behind the platform technology. The peer-to-peer Elblox platform at the core of Tal.Markt was developed here. An innovative team launched the project in 2015. The goal: To generate new ideas in the area of digitalised, decentralised energy markets and to develop new business fields. After only a year, Axpo proved that the prototype for power exchange could be used with real measurement data and found the right partner in Wuppertaler Stadtwerke to conduct a field test. It's no coincidence that Germany was chosen as the test market. In contrast to the rest of Europe, Swiss customers can still not choose their own energy suppliers.
The former pilot project has progressed well, so well that Elblox was converted into a public limited company (AG) with Axpo as the majority shareholder. The Elblox management team comprising Yves Schönenberger and Mario Zoppe want to use this new entrepreneurial freedom to take the next steps toward expansion. They are two of the innovators that helped Elblox get on its feet at Axpo. "We are planning a platform for peer-to-peer power trading beyond the Wuppertaler city limits. We are also in advanced discussions with other partners in Northern Europe, Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy," they explain. However, Elblox is not only aiming at a geographical expansion. The company also wants to broaden its offering, for example with blockchain-based solutions for major customers.
A blockchain is a decentralised database and is identical for all users. It chains together a continually growing list of data sets ("blocks"). Each block is assigned a fingerprint of the preceding block that confirms the accuracy of the previous blocks. As a result, it is not possible to tamper with the data without this being detected immediately.