In the US, apart from LO3 Energy’s pioneering blockchain platform for peer-to-peer energy trading in the Brooklyn microgrid in New York, much of the development of blockchain in the energy sector has occurred in Europe, with subsequent spin-offs in for example Asia and Australia.
However, with the pace of development of blockchain in the sector, Engerati expects this axis to shift in the current year with growing activity in the United States.
The first signs of this happening is a plan by California startup Oxygen Initiative to “prime the US market to adopt blockchain-backed electronic wallets for plug-in electric vehicle (EV) drivers.”
Notably the technology, Share&Charge, was developed in Germany, with Oxygen Initiative now supported for the second year by RWE’s energy technology innovation spinoff, innogy SE.
“We’re excited to do our part by introducing blockchain technology for the mobility space to the US,” says Stephen G. Davis, Founder and CEO, Oxygen Initiative.
“E-mobility technologies are ushering in advancements in transportation that could foster the adoption of clean-tech autonomous vehicles (AVs) and EVs, which could bring the dream of less congestion and pollution, shorter commutes and lower operating costs into reality.”
Blockchain electronic wallet
Share&Charge utilises an electronic wallet, which enables individuals and enterprises to share their charging stations with drivers who pay for usage via blockchain technology.
Following successful testing in Germany, Oxygen Initiative is adapting the technology to US standards for the local market.
Initial applications will include access and payment solutions for EV charging stations. In addition, other use cases for mobility services will be tested such as the real-time settlement of highway tolls and fee collection from car-sharing.
Another opportunity is to be found in enabling EV drivers to help utilities manage the power grid seamlessly, effectively amounting to a way for these vehicles to pay for their own fuel.
Under these scenarios, electric utilities would compensate drivers for agreeing to delay charging sessions, thereby reducing strain on power grids during times of peak demand. Excess power from the vehicle also could be sold back to the utility during peak pricing events.
“The concept of seamless charging and the possibility of microtransactions enabled by blockchain technology may be a breakthrough for the entire mobility sector,” continues Davis.
“We could see cars pay for themselves and handle simple transactions automatically. By teaming up with automakers, Oxygen Initiative will be able to solve the interoperability problem caused by various types of charging stations and charge card and payment systems to accelerate revolution-scale adoption of fleets of autonomous, electric and shared vehicles.”
Under Share&Charge, EV charging station owners and operators are able to decide who can use the charging station and when, and what tariffs users are required to pay, these including a utilisation cost for the charging station in addition to the actual energy costs and a Share&Charge fee.
In this way, in addition to enabling individuals to recover some of the investment costs in their EV charger, it also can support the establishment of an EV charging infrastructure network.
Following the beta testing last year, Android and iOS apps for the blockchain electronic wallet are currently under development. Core functionalities include a search function based on car type, specific charging permissions, opening hours and review of charging stations.
“Following successful tests in Germany, we are very happy to roll out our mobility blockchain products in the US,” says Thomas Birr, Senior Vice President, innovation and business transformation, innogy SE.
“We believe the future of personal mobility will be autonomous, connected, electric and shared. Blockchain technology can be a catalyst for this, facilitating secure, simple and efficient transactions among all stakeholders of the mobility sector.”
Oxygen Initiative, formerly operating under brand name KnGrid, is the exclusive licensee of RWE/innogys’ eMobility platform in North America.