Energy Giant TEPCO Partners with Blockchain Startup Electron in Decentralization Bid
UK-based blockchain firm Electron just received another big vote of confidence in the form of a newly announced investment from the Tokyo Electric Power company (TEPCO).
TEPCO made the announcement on Friday. The investment is in support of the startup company’s scheme to transition away from a centralized server platform towards decentralized systems in terms of the energy sector. The announcement also signifies the official end of an early-stage bridging investment round that wrapped up at the close of 2017. The London-based tech company was created with the aim of “support[ing] the Industry’s transition to smart grid infrastructure and new market norms of decarbonisation, decentralisation, digitisation and democratisation,” ultimately in the hopes of both modernizing the existing energy infrastructure as well as creating a system that encourages more efficient power sharing.
"We are excited to work with Electron to explore and obtain additional know-how on blockchain that has the potential to significantly impact the energy market."
Shinichiro Kengaku, TEPCO’s Managing Executive Officer and Chief of the Global Innovation & Investments, voiced his optimism about the “transformative potential” of the partnership: “We are excited to work with Electron to explore and obtain additional know-how on blockchain that has the potential to significantly impact the energy market,” he said in a TEPCO statement. “We believe it is very important to continuously seek new opportunities and create new value for society.”
Electron has been winning support since 2016, starting with the success of its smart meter service in which it tried out a platform that simulated data originating from a total of 53 million home meters connected to roughly 60 energy providers. Its energy supplier switches achieved an execution rate that was 20 times faster than what is normally achieved with current switches. Gaining momentum, last year the company appoint ex-npower CEO Paul Massara to its board, who said at the time of the announcement, “This is also a testament to the growing recognition within the energy industry of the opportunity afforded by blockchains to speed innovation and cut costs. Both of which will be good news to consumers.”
No small company, TEPCO generates revenues that exceed $456 billion and is by far the country’s largest utility provider. TEPCO’s recent move is in line with its decision back in May 2017, to join the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), a global energy blockchain initiative. Among its 10 affiliates is Singapore Power, or SP Group, who are also seeking blockchain technology to achieve lower transaction costs, achieve higher levels of cybersecurity, and enable various energy devices “to transact with each other” more effectively. In this way, Electron is providing a service that will allow large energy sector entities like TEPCO the means to achieve their vision. It would not be a far leap to assume that SP Group could soon make a similar announcement.
Electron CEO Paul Ellis discussed the thinking behind the partnership with the Japanese investor: “In the next phase of energy transformation, millions of new assets will be joining energy networks at both the transmission and distribution levels. There is a huge need to create a robust shared infrastructure that can identify and record the properties of these assets – this can be underpinned by appropriate blockchain technologies.”