The Spanish utility Iberdrola this month said it had used a blockchain platform to certify delivery of green energy to one of its corporate customers.
The company used a platform developed by Energy Web Foundation (EWF) to provide real-time Guarantees of Origin for renewable energy delivered to Kutxabank, a bank based in Basque country in northern Spain, and Kutxabank’s south Spanish subsidiary Cajasur.
Iberdrola said the energy was sourced from its San Esteban hydropower plant in Ourense, Galicia, and two wind farms: Oiz in Biscay and Maranchón near Guadalajara.
Following a power-purchase agreement signed last July, Kutxabank is also due to get renewable energy from Iberdrola’s 391-megawatt Nuñez de Balboa solar plant, the largest in Europe, which Iberdrola is building in Extremadura in southern Spain.
At its most ambitious, energy blockchain could create decentralized, peer-to-peer energy trading. Initial uses of digital distributed ledgers, though, have proven less revolutionary. Instead, they tend to focus on more mundane back-end accounting processes for large energy companies.
In this case, blockchain technology helped Iberdrola cut costs and eliminate intermediaries by allowing smart contracts to be executed automatically, the company said. Kutxabank executives were able to monitor the supply of energy as they wished via a web-based user interface.
This blockchain application “provides efficiency, flexibility, transparency and savings to the Guarantees of Origin process,” Iberdrola said in a press release.
The company said it had already implemented several initiatives using blockchain, including a project for peer-to-peer transactions in wholesale gas and electricity markets.
Iberdrola’s Kutxabank pilot used EW Origin, a customizable, open-source decentralized application for renewable energy and carbon markets, confirmed Jesse Morris, EWF’s chief commercial officer.
Iberdrola was one of two major Spanish energy companies using the software, he said.
Last month, the renewable project developer and owner Acciona Energía revealed it had also begun to use the EW Origin blockchain platform to authenticate the source of the energy produced at its plants.
Acciona Energía said it was the first company to trace renewable energy using blockchain in Spain and Portugal. The company said it had created a commercial demo to trace renewable generation from five wind and hydro facilities in Spain through to four corporate clients in Portugal.
Acciona’s project, called Greenchain, was developed out of an earlier project where Acciona used Traceblock, a blockchain platform developed by the Spanish firm Tecnalia, to track energy production from battery systems at a solar plant in Tudela and a wind farm in Barásoain, both in Navarre.
“Tracing the renewable origin of energy is an ever-increasing demand, associated with the growth of the corporate contracting market for green energy,” commented Belén Linares, Acciona Energía’s director of innovation, in a press note.
“Blockchain technology can facilitate this service considerably to clients in any part of the world,” she added. “We are very pleased to take this first step along a route that will surely set the trend over the next few years.”
Morris said having two major Spanish energy companies using EWF’s blockchain technology is “encouraging, especially in a country with massive solar resources and an evolving regulatory landscape.”
For Acciona’s Greenchain project and others like it, Morris said EWF is working with a Spanish affiliate called FlexiDao, which uses blockchain technology to stamp the provenance of electricity and automatically assign it to consumers.
FlexiDao has also worked alongside Iberdrola. In December, EWF and Iberdrola staged a blockchain hackathon in Bern, Switzerland, in which FlexiDao emerged as a winner after developing a device registry for devices feeding electricity into the grid.
The Iberdrola and Acciona initiatives come as blockchain companies settle down to the business of getting results after many were able to raise substantial sums of money via "initial coin offerings" in late 2017 and early 2018.
Growing interest in energy-related blockchain applications led some observers to point out that the underlying digital ledger technology, based on Ethereum, was not ready to support certain applications, such as peer-to-peer energy trading.
In response, EWF has led moves to create blockchains designed specifically for the energy industry. This month, GTM listed EWF as one of the four energy blockchain ventures that experts believe will be most worth watching in 2019.