Blockchain and Energy, Enel at Consensus 2017

Published on Tuesday, 23 May 2017

From May 22 to May 24, New York is hosting Consensus 2017, the Annual Technology Summit dedicated to what is considered one of the biggest innovations, destined to change the lives of people and businesses.

The event is presented by CoinDesk and has reached its third edition, with a global audience of more than 2,000 participants from over 35 countries – including institutional representatives, professionals, managers, experts, startups, investors, financial and academic institutions – to explore the applications of digital currency technology.

Enel is participating in the summit for the second year in a row, but unlike last year, in which we attended the event as observers, this year we are contributing to the debate on the potential use of blockchain technology in the energy industry.

Diego Dal Canto, from Enel's Innovation function, was among the speakers in a panel on Energy Markets, aimed at defining in particular blockchain applications to promote the development of decentralised renewable energy systems or the interoperability of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Dal Canto highlighted that, “Enel was among the first large utilities to analyse, since 2016, the limitations and possible applications of blockchain technology in the energy industry. In order to explore the potential of this technology, we formed a multidisciplinary workgroup composed of various function and business lines, while exploring proposals and solutions developed by startups, as well as opening a debate with other large European utilities.”

Our interest in the issue led us to promoting a workshop in Amsterdam last February called “Blockchain Utility Meeting: which use cases to move beyond the hype.”

What we learned, Dal Canto explained, is that “it is still not clear – at least for now – how to actually “ground” and fully leverage blockchain’s potential in our business. We must exercise great caution at a time of strong hype for what is still an extremely “immature” technology, although many analysts are very optimistic about future applications. We are continuing to explore this technology and will be ready to seize opportunities when they arise. In fact, after the Amsterdam event, we launched a discussion platform on Eurelectric, an association that brings together the leading European electrical companies, to initiate a collaboration through an Open innovation approach, sharing the experience that we have gained in Proof of concepts or other blockchain applications in the energy field.”

The debate will continue at CIRED 2017, a biennial conference on innovative technologies and electricity distribution, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, June 12-15. On the afternoon of 14 June, our company will organise and coordinate a round table called “Blockchain: which use cases in the energy industry.” Industry players will participate in the debate to share their practical experiences with blockchain technology, including Centrica, Innogy, Enedis, Verbund and Electron.