During Bitcoin Wednesday on 4 October 2017, Karl Kreder, Director of Energy for Brooklyn-based Blockchain conglomerate, Consensys, will introduce Grid+. The new venture plans to launch blockchain-powered hardware and software for the energy market.
Grid+ is a secure, Ethereum-enabled gateway to connect Internet-of-Things devices with associated software. The hardware gateway, or “smart energy agent”, is an Internet-enabled, always-on appliance that securely stores cryptocurrencies and processes payments for electricity in real-time. The agent programmatically buys and sells electricity for the user and intelligently adjusts energy consumption in time periods when prices are significantly higher or lower (e.g. load shifting for the Tesla Powerwall or the Nest thermostat).
The software works with the smart energy agent to make payments using Grid+ designed payment channels. It will also work with a Raiden network hub when that technology becomes available. Grid+ is also developing a system architecture that allows a typical user to benefit from cryptocurrencies while remaining unaware of its use. The implementation of a secure, always-on system, with low-friction payment rails also provides a missing piece of infrastructure to the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem.
The Grid+ infrastructure has many uses beyond electricity. ConsenSys believes it will be key to enabling the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies.
Changes in the Energy Sector
Recent developments in the energy sector suggest that the market may soon be ready for blockchain innovation. The cost of solar panels, wind turbines and other distributed energy resources (DERs) has decreased significantly in the past ten years. Battery prices are also dropping quickly, making them economically viable to supplement variable-generation renewable-resources by storing energy for the electrical grid. These changes are driving widespread adoption. We are starting to see an emergent electrical grid in which energy production is less centralized and control systems are less likely to be strictly top down.
The concept of independently owned and controlled DERs is known as the transactive energy grid. This grid promises to increase durability our energy network, while simultaneously increasing efficiency and enabling the adoption of more renewable energy. Despite these advantages, the distributed nature of the transactive grid poses two major challenges: technical control and grid administration, both of which can be addressed with blockchain technology.
The ConsenSys energy team has several years of experience building and demonstrating blockchain-based distributed energy resource management solutions. Through this experience ConsenSys identified the opportunity to form Grid+ and is now working on Ethereum-based utilities for deregulated markets. Grid+ will deploy production-ready blockchain-based energy solutions at scale in competitive commercial environments. In doing so, Grid+ will enable the transactive grid of the future and demonstrate the advantages of Ethereum over incumbent technologies.
Karl Kreder is the Director of Energy at ConsenSys and a Cofounder of Grid+. He previously served as an external advisor for the Energy Group at ConsenSys. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin where he received his PhD in Materials Science for research in advanced battery technologies. Prior to attaining his PhD, Karl worked at Southwest Research Institute where he helped to build the Energy Storage System Evaluation and Safety (EssEs) consortium into a global alliance of 12 industry members from 3 continents with a budget of more than $3 million. The group performed testing, characterization, and research on large-format lithium ion batteries for >10 kWh of energy storage.