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Energy industry November 30, 2016

Blockchain in the energy transition. A survey among decision-makers in the German energy industry

By Christoph Burger, Jens Weinmann, Andreas Kuhlmann, and Philipp Richard
Blockchain is a distributed, digital transaction technology that allows for securely storing data and executing smart contracts in peer-to-peer networks.

In a survey among German energy executives, the Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (DENA) - the German Energy Agency -  and ESMT Berlin have compiled their opinions, current and planned actions, and visions of the future role of Blockchain in the energy sector.

More than half of the 70 respondents have already experimented with Blockchain or plans to do so. 21 percent consider Blockchain a game-changer for the energy supply industry. 60 percent of the respondents believe that further dissemination of the Blockchain is likely, and 14 percent expect niche applications. The survey also covered potential use cases: Around half of the use cases mentioned by respondents are related to process optimization, including billing, sales and marketing, automation, metering, and data transfer, mobility, communication, and grid management. The second half is linked to public and private trading platforms, in particular, peer-to-peer trade, and decentralized energy generation.

Respondents urge decision-makers to speed up the process of putting Blockchain at the top of their agendas and express concerns that Germany and the European Union might be lagging behind in a global comparison. The rapid launch of prototypes should verify the functionality of the technology and attract a sufficient amount of users to rapidly reach a critical mass. They also fear that the current regulatory framework is not suited at all to accommodate Blockchain applications.

The DENA / ESMT analysis reveals that the cost-cutting potential of Blockchain applications has its limitations. Especially in markets where digital solutions already exist, the technology will have to compete with fairly efficient processes. By contrast, nascent markets, such as public charging and billing transactions for electric vehicles, offer possibilities of the Blockchain to become the dominant design.

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