Austrian Energy Company to Introduce Blockchain-Based Products

The largest energy supplier in Austria is testing blockchain-based services and intends to market products incorporating them.
Sibel Nicholson

The company has been testing the services in Vienna’s Second Quarter (Viertel Zwei) and once it has collected enough experience there, it will develop business models and bring them to market, Wien Energie’s Chief Innovation Officer Astrid Schober told Reuters.

Viertel Zwei is an office and residential area in Vienna. It has promoted itself in the past 10 years as a green city district for urban living based on sustainability.

The end-customer products incorporating blockchain based services could include electric car stations connected via the technology, industry experts say. They could also include services around land registry and power supply.

May be available this year

During the German E-World of Energy fair, products such as green electricity provision, electric car charging or land registry services were within reach, Schober said.

“It may be overoptimistic but services may become available this year as we are trying to be active and build the know-how in our company fast,” she said.

Schober said the company was however aware of the disruptive potential of blockchain.

“If the technology means there are no intermediaries any more, it becomes an issue for us, so we are actively looking into other business models,” she said.

Distributes to more than 2 million people

Wien Energie, which is a Vienna-based gas distributing company, can reach the 2 million retail and 235,000 commercial customers it already supplies. Last year, it tested developer BTL’s Interbit blockchain platform to reach good speed in gas trade confirmations.

It became one of the first among European utilities by doing so. BTL, which is a Canadian start-up, said that it involved companies BP and Eni, but the two did not comment.

Blockchain appealing to energy industry

Blockchain, which is a distributed computerized record of transactions or other data, appeals to the energy industry. The industry has to handle very complex transactions between big and small producers as well as consumers, and corporate entities. This is due to the arrival of more decentralized renewable energy volumes.

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The record of transactions in blockchain is carried out without the need for an intermediary.

Energy companies are working to consolidate back-office processes, cut down risk, protect against cyber threats and thus save costs in the long run.

Enerchain to create platform to trade gas, electricity

In January, the US Department of Energy announced a partnership with blockchain startup BlockCypher expressing desire to explore peer to peer energy exchanges. Shell, BP and other entities also decided to support a blockchain trading platform last year.

Wien Energie is also part of Enerchain, which 35 European utilities have formed, to participate in tests to create a trading platform for electricity and gas. It also intends to perform business-to-business trading in the long run.

Europe at the moment has less than a number of blockchain-based energy trading ventures. The Energy Web Foundation and WePower of Lithuania are some of the companies involved.

It may be a better idea for major players to openly run blockchain parallel to existing processes because of regulation, according to analysts.


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