For Utilities, Blockchain Represents an Opportunity

In an article for Renewable Energy World, Navigant Research says utilities can partner with stakeholders for success

Despite being a relative latecomer to the blockchain space, energy-related activity is picking up quickly. Startups, tech companies, and consortia are all exploring everything from back office applications like energy trading and settlement platforms to more consumer-facing solutions like transactive, electric vehicle charging, and demand response. 

Utilities, on the other hand, seem to be taking a more cautious approach.

In an article for Renewable Energy World, Johnathon de Villier, research analyst with Navigant Research, says part of this stems from the threat to utilities’ volume-based business models.

“It can be difficult to see why utilities should be interested in blockchain at all,” de Villier said. “Utilities are often the middleman between electricity generators and the end consumer, and are not enchanted by disintermediation.”

However, blockchain does not have to pit startups against utilities, or suppliers against consumers and prosumers, according to the article. When stakeholders work together, the technology has the potential to support a platform that aligns the incentives of the various stakeholders in the energy system.

“Utilities do not have to suddenly transform into Silicon Valley software companies to avoid a future where they are at loggerheads with their consumers and other stakeholders,” de Villier added. “But whether blockchain wins the day or not, utilities need to decide if they are going to view the energy transformation as a threat or an opportunity. The choice is still theirs to make — for now.”

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