The blockchain revolution promises to dramatically change how people live, yet much of the benefit will not be directly seen by the public. Institutions that provide products and services will soon become vastly more efficient as a result of distributed ledgers. Topping this list may be utility providers, most of which are developing plans to implement the technology into their systems.
Energy providers across the globe are presently taking a close look at how blockchain can impact their operations. Numerous pilot projects are in place, most of which involve electric companies and power plants using the technology to create better tracking systems and more efficient power grids. For example, blockchain can streamline the archaic system of energy trading. It can also play a role making power infrastructure more secure, and automate processes such as meter reading and plant production data.
In a larger sense, however, blockchain technology has the potential to overhaul the entire means by which electricity is produced and consumed. Notably, it can enable individuals to produce their own power via solar panels, and sell it to others across the grid infrastructure, independent of any utility. In fact, proof-of-concept microgrids have already been established across neighborhoods that demonstrate the ability to produce, store, and trade electricity securely and efficiently via blockchain.
Water utilities also are developing plans to implement blockchain. The fact that global water sources are under threat underscores the need to implement systems to better manage this limited resource. Distributed ledger systems are likely to play a key role in this regard. For example, they can far more effectively manage water rights and usage data. Blockchain has many uses in making agriculture more efficient, which will save water, and also reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides. There are also use cases for municipal water systems that will reduce waste and improve wastewater treatment.
The continued movement toward urbanization presents a tremendous global challenge, and as with individual utility sectors, major cities are embracing blockchain to help with growing population challenges. Future cities are set to integrate the technology into a wide range of municipal services, creating so-called “smart cities” that will function far more efficiently. Taipei, for example, is working with the Iota Foundation to use the Iota Tangle for such projects as air quality monitoring, streamlined waste collection, and digital resident identification. Also, with the support of the European Union, dozens of European cities have smart city initiatives involving blockchain.
It is worth noting that many of these blockchain-based projects are well into the testing phase, and a number of them will be implemented by the end of next year. They are examples of how mainstream use of this revolutionary technology is very near. Also, they demonstrate the fact hat distributed ledger systems are far more significant than merely the adoption of cryptocurrency. They promise to revolutionize all aspects of modern life.
No doubt the implementation of blockchain platforms into utilities will be a trial and error process, and there will be both successes and failures. Nevertheless, blockchain technology is rapidly moving into the sector. It stands to change how critical services are delivered to billions across the globe. The process may presently be in its early stages, but the transition is clearly underway.