Category Archives: electricity

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Blockchain Tech to Develop Next-Gen Energy Micro Grids in South Korea

In a press release today, South Korea’s largest power provider KEPCO said it plans to develop future micro-grids (MG) that use blockchain technology alongside other open energy community solutions.

Kim Jong-gap, president and CEO of KEPCO, said in the announcement that they are pursuing the KEPCO Open MG Project to develop future microgrids. The aim is to improve the already established energy infrastructures, especially those of the green energy systems by bridging the gaps between independent MG providers.

The current energy infrastructure being developed is seen as a solution to energy supply problems: “If electricity can be traded between MGs, it will be helpful to stabilize the power system of new and renewable energy by eliminating the system connection bottleneck.”

Previously existing MGs were based on the systems of photovoltaics, wind turbines, and energy storage devices which made it difficult for the electric power producer to supply stable power. However, with the newly introduced Open MG system, which is equipped with a fuel cell as a power source, there should be an increase in the energy dependence rate and efficiency, which will also promote eco-friendly energy practices as it does not emit greenhouse gases.

KEPCO is leveraging on blockchain’s decentralized aspects, one of the three major trends Kim believes are in the future of the energy industry: decarbonization, decentralization, and digitalization.

KEPCO is responsible for the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity for most of South Korea. About 50% of the equity shares in the company is owned by the government and a government-owned bank, despite it being a public company. However, it continues to explore new technologies and innovations to improve energy distribution models.

In April this year, Power Ledger announced its partnership with KEPCO to begin exploring peer-to-peer energy trading. With the promise of increased funding from the South Korean government and the recent partnerships between KEPCO, Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, IT service management company Nihon Unisys, and the University of Tokyo, the country may well be on its way to transforming the energy distribution sector domestically.

 

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New Study Finds That Bitcoin Mining Consumes Far Less Energy Than Previous Estimates

Christopher Bendiksen and Samuel Gibbons from Coinshares Research released an analysis of the Bitcoin mining network on 21 May 2018 and found that Bitcoin mining consumes 35 TWh annually, 0.14% of global capacity and less than the energy consumption the tiny European nation of Luxembourg. This is less than half of the 71 TWh estimated by Digicononomist, which would be 0.32% of global consumption and comparable to the large South American nation of Chile.

The Coinshares study estimates the spectrum of rig types being used across the Bitcoin mining network in order to make its calculation. Quite the opposite, Digiconomist uses the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index (BCEI) which is based on the philosophy that it is too difficult to calculate energy consumption based on hash rate because of all the different types of mining rigs and their varying efficiency. BCEI simply assumes that Bitcoin mining electricity costs are 60% of Bitcoin mining revenue, and calculates electricity consumption from the resulting figure by using a global average of 0.05 USD per KWh.

Furthermore, the Coinshares study finds that the Bitcoin mining network is primarily fueled by renewable energy, especially hydroelectric, massively reducing its carbon footprint. Apparently, Bitcoin miners do a good job of setting up farms where there is an excess of renewable energy being generated, like in parts of China and Quebec, Canada.

This would make the estimates on Digiconomist of carbon footprint far overestimated. Currently, they say each Bitcoin transaction releases 500 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, but if Coinshares is right then the amount of CO2 released per Bitcoin transaction is less than half this estimation.

On 16 May 2018, Alex de Vries published a study on Bitcoin mining energy consumption in ScienceDirect that used the BCEI, and his study made rounds through cryptocurrency media causing much discussion on how Bitcoin mining is bad for the environment due to the burning of fossil fuels, and would soon lead to increased electricity costs globally.

Apparently the BCEI calculation used by Digiconomist and Alex de Vries is overly simplistic and makes no attempt to calculate Bitcoin mining energy consumption by summing up the power consumption of the mining equipment that comprises the Bitcoin network, which is what the Coinshares study does.

It can’t be known for sure which methodology is right or wrong, what can be known for sure is that experts disagree on the amount of Bitcoin mining energy consumption and it may be far less than what the media has been reporting previously.

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Walmart Patent Integrates Crypto to Control Electricity Usage

Walmart has filed a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office which would control electricity usage by integrating cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

The system described in the patent would allot a fixed amount of cryptocurrency for electricity usage in a house, and this cryptocurrency would be used to purchase electricity from a utility company. This provides a mechanism to control electricity expenditures in a household or store and, therefore, would save money.

Each appliance and device in a house or store will have its own fixed amount of cryptocurrency that it could use to buy electricity, and this is recorded in a blockchain ledger. If a device uses up all of its cryptocurrency and electricity, it can query other devices that are using electricity slower than expected in order to get more cryptocurrency to purchase electricity.

If a device does have extra cryptocurrency, it sends it to the device that needs more, and all of these transactions are recorded in a blockchain ledger to facilitate easy auditing. The person paying the electric bill could review the blockchain ledger and find out which devices are using more electricity than they should and make appropriate changes in behavior or repairs, if necessary.

Essentially, this creates an autonomous system where devices interact with each other through cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to use electricity efficiently. The system guarantees there won’t be nasty surprises when the electric bill arrives since the fixed amount of cryptocurrency set aside for electric usage cannot be exceeded.

This system would need a cryptocurrency with very low transaction fees. Even more ideal would be zero transaction fees like with Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.

If there is extra cryptocurrency, the system could share it with another store or household that needs more cryptocurrency for electricity. It can also sell it for fiat on the market, or it could roll it over for the following billing period.

Walmart’s research branch has been embracing and experimenting with blockchain technology. It has filed patents for blockchain-powered autonomous vehicles that deliver products, as well as a marketplace that uses blockchain so customers can resell products purchased at Walmart.

It is only a matter of time until the technology that Walmart is developing becomes operational in the 11,700 stores it owns worldwide, which would facilitate blockchain technology reaching more people than ever before.

 

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Bitcoin Mining To Comprise 0.5% of Global Electricity Consumption

A new study authored by Alex de Vries and published in Science Direct forecasts that Bitcoin mining will comprise 0.5% of total global electricity consumption by the end of 2018, and is currently consuming 2.5 GigaWatts. This is the first scientific peer-reviewed paper on Bitcoin mining energy usage, and the author hopes this study will be the impetus for getting the conversation started on the best way to handle this problem in the future.

Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency in the world with a market cap of USD 137 billion and trading volume of several billion dollars per day as of this writing. It uses the proof of work (PoW) algorithm where computers cryptographically hash transactions and organize them into blocks, which are added to the blockchain in order to maintain and secure the network. Computers that participate in PoW calculations are called Bitcoin miners, and they receive Bitcoin for their efforts.

Mining Bitcoin has become an extremely popular way to earn Bitcoin, and the amount of processing power used to has snowballed. As more computers mine, each computer already mining Bitcoin receives less income, causing the people to buy more mining machines so that they remain competitive. This has turned into a self-sustaining positive feedback loop that has led to exponential growth of the Bitcoin mining hash rate.

Currently, over 32 million TH/s of processing power is maintaining and securing the Bitcoin network. This uses a tremendous 67 TWh of electricity per year, which is enough to power 6.2 million US households, and is approximately the same amount of electricity that the Czech Republic uses annually.

Fossil fuels burned for Bitcoin mining releases 33,000 kilotons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year, which is contributing to global warming, not to mention the damage from other toxic pollutants that are released into the environment when burning fuel.

This environmental damage that Bitcoin mining is causing has brought up the question if there is a more energy efficient way to maintain and secure the Bitcoin network. One answer lies in switching to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) mining, which some believe is just as secure as PoW but uses almost no electricity in comparison. Any changes to the Bitcoin protocol are met with extreme controversy, however, and this is unlikely to happen. Miners would be particularly opposed, considering that PoW provides such a large amount of money to Bitcoin miners, and switching to PoS would take away their income and make all their mining rigs obsolete.

Bitcoin mining hash rate and electricity usage will continue to rise until the point is reached that the revenue earned from Bitcoin mining equals the amount spent on equipment plus electricity. Currently, Bitcoin electricity usage is more than doubling every year.

 

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