Engie, Microsoft, SP Group, DBS Bank, TWL, E.ON, and Sonnen Test the First Version of EW Origin Blockchain App
By Doug Miller & Jens Griesing, Energy Web Foundation
We have entered the beginning of a new era for the world’s renewable energy and carbon markets.
Yesterday at Event Horizon in Berlin, Energy Web Foundation (EWF) released version one of EW Origin, the first decentralized application (dApp) running on the Energy Web blockchain. This is the first release of Origin in advance of its full launch in Spring 2019.
EW Origin records the provenance and automatically tracks the ownership of renewably generated electricity with unprecedented transparency, integrity, and detail—including location, time, source type, and real-time avoided carbon emissions—with kilowatt-hour (kWh) granularity. It captures the opportunity to upgrade the way renewable energy and carbon markets work with a state-of-the-art, user-friendly tool.
EWF also showcased five simulated transactions illustrating the current capabilities of EW Origin and involving the participation of several EWF Affiliates and other industry leaders that are assessing and informing Origin’s development to ensure it meets business and regulatory needs:
- Microsoft and Engie: Microsoft was a test buyer of green attributes from Engie assets in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands based on pre-specified demand
- DBS Bank and SP Group: DBS Bank was a test buyer of green attributes from SP Group assets in Singapore based on pre-specified demand
- Grid Singularity and residential solar: Grid Singularity was a test buyer of green attributes based on pairing its actual electricity consumption with generation from household solar systems in Germany
- Sonnen energy storage: Sonnen batteries exchanged green energy from the grid, offtaking and injecting as specified
These examples—involving real companies, with real physical assets, and actual, real-time generation and consumption data, but no financial transfer—begin to shine a light on how blockchain is poised to fundamentally transform renewable energy and carbon markets as we know them today.
In addition, E.ON and TWL are in the process of completing yet another simulated transaction, in which E.ON is a test buyer of green attributes from TWL assets in Germany. And several other organizations have shared their intention to connect assets for EW Origin pilots and inform the app’s development in the months ahead, including Equinor (formerly Statoil), Exelon, PTT, and RECS International.
EW Origin: a new open-source, blockchain-based application for renewable energy and carbon markets
Origin leverages blockchain technology alongside thoughtful technical architecture, robust device connection options, and broadbase industry and regulatory engagement in order to unlock clean energy investments by delivering the following benefits to market participants:
- New, enhanced, more-granular, and automated data at the kWh level with real-time carbon accounting data;
- Consistent user experience across geographic markets;
- Integration of previously disconnected markets, such as renewable energy and carbon offset markets;
- Plug-and-play adaptability for new and existing certificate of origin markets and associated tracking systems;
- Lower transaction costs through automation (via smart contracts) and disintermediation;
- Greater access for generators and buyers of all sizes to renewable energy markets, and capabilities for greater consumer choice;
- Expanded functionality and new use cases, such as aggregation and demand matching; and
- Innovative new services built using Origin’s foundational, customizable, open-source code running on the Energy Web Chain.
EW Origin’s technical architecture and key features
EWF is developing Origin in collaboration with multiple EWF Affiliates and industry leaders who test and inform this new tool. Over roughly the past year, active engagement and input from EWF Affiliates—namely, Engie, SP Group, TWL, E.ON, Equinor, Exelon, and PTT—shaped the vision for Origin and inspired EWF to proceed with developing it.
The technical architecture underpinning Origin combines several use cases, including:
- Onboard assets: establish the connection and cryptographic identity for each renewable energy generation and energy consumption asset;
- Onboard generators and buyers: establish the cryptographic identity for each renewable energy generator and buyer;
- Onboard agreements: upload the agreements made between generators and buyers that establish the terms of kWh green attribute ownership transfers (e.g., volume, type, frequency, price, location, and duration);
- Collect and list kWh details: post the standard details and real-time avoided carbon emissions (based on a partnership with WattTime) for each kWh generated by onboarded assets on an hourly basis;
- Automate transfers to buyers: transfer the ownership of kWh green attributes from generators to buyers based on the terms of onboarded agreements; and
- Automate green claims and reports: enable buyers to retire and claim kWh green attributes, and generate a report buyers can use for their voluntary and mandatory reporting needs.
EWF is also developing hardware and software solutions to enable a secure connection between renewable energy and consumption assets with the Energy Web Chain—ensuring kWh data integrity—including development of an EWF “light client” that interfaces between these assets and the Energy Web Chain.
Several planned features will also be added to Origin in the months ahead:
- Decentralized onboarding of users, assets, and user-to-user agreements
- A marketplace for available supply and demand of kWh green attributes
- Online payment functionality for green attribute transactions
- Secret transactions and know-your-customer (KYC) process
EWF’s development team will identify and prioritize further additional features based on feedback from upcoming pilots.
A state-of-the-art tool for certificate of origin market tracking systems
EW Origin will help regulators modernize their renewable energy and carbon tracking systems. For renewable energy certificate (REC) markets in the United States and guarantee of origin (GO) markets in the European Union, this means replacing outdated database technologies currently underlying existing tracking systems with Origin. For countries that do not yet have certificate of origin markets and associated tracking systems, Origin offers a leapfrog solution.
EW Origin is different than other blockchain solutions in development right now for renewable energy markets that “tokenize” units of energy. Instead, Origin offers an enhanced tracking tool that can be deployed in any certificate of origin market that simultaneously offers a vast number of new features for users. It allows for modification to meet the needs of different market—such as differing regulation to pricing—while also providing users various features akin to mobile car-sharing apps (e.g., Uber and Lyft) and tailor-made online travel booking platforms (e.g., Airbnb, Hotels.com, and Skyscanner). This will help unlock clean energy investments by simplifying existing pain points that people experience to prove their renewable energy generation, purchases, and the associated CO2 displaced from electricity grids.
The first five use scenarios of EW Origin by industry leaders
The use scenarios between Engie–Microsoft, SP Group–DBS Bank, and TWL–E.ON involve similar arrangements in different markets of automated daily transfers from a renewable energy generator to a buyer based on a pre-specified volume of kWh green attributes. The use scenario between two German household systems and Grid Singularity’s Berlin office illustrated an additional capability of Origin: connecting energy consumption assets so that automated renewable energy green attribute purchases match actual consumption on a daily basis. The Sonnen scenario indicates an example of future uses of Origin associated with energy storage.
The scenarios in France and Germany also delivered real-time avoided carbon emissions information (through WattTime’s API) based on the actual carbon intensity of the electricity service area where a given renewable generation asset is dispatched. This API, which currently offers avoided carbon emissions information for the U.S. and much of the EU, will become available for additional markets this year—including several markets in Southeast Asia.
None of these first use scenarios included financial transactions—something that will, however, become possible after the addition of the online payment and secret transaction features in the months ahead.
EWF is excited to continue working with these organizations and learning from their experiences with Origin as EWF works to build something that ultimately unleashes clean energy investments.
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The opportunity to run a pilot of EW Origin to inform its development
Over the next year, EWF wants to connect as many renewable energy assets as possible to run pilots of EW Origin before the app’s full release in Spring 2019, to ensure it meets the needs of various types of market participants and regulators across the globe. These pilots will show participants how Origin works and allow participants to provide input to inform its development. Roughly 30 organizations—including, but not limited to, EWF Affiliates—across more than 10 countries have already expressed interest in running a pilot as a generator and/or buyer.
In the spirit of collaboration and shared learning to deploy scalable climate change solutions, participation in a pilot of Origin is straightforward, open for anyone, and free of charge. There are several ways to participate in a pilot:
- Generators: Select and work with EWF to connect a renewable energy asset, and collaborate with a buyer to test the execution of an onboarded agreement.
- Buyers: Determine the basic terms of an onboarded agreement with a generator, and review the resulting reports from the executed agreement.
- Regulators and system operators: Provide general input to help ensure Origin meets regulatory needs, and test Origin as a technological uprade for existing or new tracking systems.
Please contact Doug Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in joining the fast-growing list of those who want to run a pilot of Origin over the next year.
Images courtesy of SP Group.