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Leon Kaye headshot

Solar "Bitcoin" Founders Launch Blockchain Project to Disrupt Global Energy Markets

By Leon Kaye

Last week, the team that launched SolarCoin, billed as the first clean energy digital currency (as in a solar bitcoin), kicked off Greeneum. This blockchain project aims to leverage digital currency in order to boost the generation and consumption of renewables and allow for decentralized energy trading between utilities, producers grid operators, and consumers. Greeneum also says it will adopt artificial intelligence to gauge predictive insights on the entire clean energy life cycle, which the company says will help meet global challenges with integration and reliability as more companies and utilities incorporate cleaner sources of power.

Israel-based Greeneum currently has pilot programs operating across Africa, the U.S., Europe and Israel. The company says this technology is timely as energy experts have long lamented that power systems worldwide have become outdated and inefficient. Many of these networks are hampered by the challenges they face in a 21st-century economy, which has already required a rapid transition to low-carbon sources. Creaky grid systems and a lack of transparency between the energy sector’s relationship with government officials, insists Greeneum’s founders, further contribute to the disparity in costs between new sources of energy and what consumers currently still pay.

In California, for example, the surge in solar power generation at times have forced the cost of electricity prices down. Nevertheless, some consumers across California still pay some of the highest utility bills in the U.S. – the Golden State’s mild weather, many energy analysts argue, prevents many bills from becoming even higher.

But Greeneum’s network could help tackle such problems in two ways. First, the system will use blockchain technology to identify, manage and track billions of energy trades worldwide. Energy companies and utilities will then be able to harness the network’s “smart contacts” to secure the data points they need. The system can be tailored, as in the case of a utility operating across state lines that only want to track data from specific points. In addition, Greeneum will also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to validate energy data, allowing users across the network to put together forecasts and can reap this data for insights.

Blockchain technologies have become increasingly touted as a path towards scaling up renewables, streamlining transactions such as when homeowners are ready to sell their rooftop solar, utilities bid on competitively-priced wind power or companies track renewable power trading certificates. Today’s systems in use just are not adequate for these tasks, wrote Mike Orcutt for MIT Technology Review earlier this year:

“Such a byzantine system racks up transaction costs, while leaving plenty of room for accounting errors that can range from honest mistakes to outright fraud. The lack of transparency also scares many people off entirely.”

But blockchain could finally disrupt the 20th-century technologies that currently stitch global energy systems together. This technology first caught on as it evolved as the backbone of bitcoin transactions; they were then heralded for their ability to make supply chains more efficient and transparent. Now, clean power blockchain pilots are launching worldwide, from Perth, Australia to Brooklyn.

Greenum’s system will center on a utility ERC20 token called “GREEN” that seeks to accelerate clean energy production while rewarding users for adopting renewables. Sales of these tokens will launch on Thursday, October 26. Greeneum’s funders anticipate the entire project and platform to be completed by mid-2018.

Image credit: Pete Jelliffe/Flickr

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye