Developing blockchain by consortium – is there power in numbers?

New blockchain consortia are emerging as organisations collaborate on standards and use case development
Published: Tue 10 Jul 2018

Alliances and consortia are a favoured way of gathering wider industry support and momentum behind a particular technology and potentially advancing it to a standard.

In particular with an emerging technology, such as blockchain, with the potential market opportunity it offers, various consortia have emerged. And they continue to do so with new kids on the block including the Climate Change Coalition (CCC) and led by the automotive sector, the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI).

Among current consortia in the sector are the Energy Web Foundation, which is developing an open source platform aimed to the energy sector and at a company level, UK-based Electron, which is building support towards commercialisation of its platform.

Another, technology but not sector specific, is the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), which is aiming to advance the Ethereum platform as an open standard for use in the energy sector among others. Key for standardisation is certification and in a new white paper, the EEA roadmap envisages launch of a testing programme in the first half of 2019.

Climate Change Coalition

So what are these two new coalitions all about and how do they impact our sector?

The Climate Change Coalition was formed at the One Planet Summit in Paris in December 2017 – the 2nd anniversary of the COP 21 Paris Agreement – as a multi-stakeholder group to advance blockchain and related digital solutions to support the climate agenda.

Specifically, the aim of the Coalition, which now counts more than 80 members, is to collaborate and use the technologies to help mobilise climate finance and enhance measurement, reporting and verification to scale climate actions for mitigation and adaptation.

Energy sector participants include the Energy Web Foundation, blockchain developers Power Ledger from Australia, WePower from Lithuania and NewEra Energy which is developing a blockchain framework to enhance carbon market data.

“WePower’s goal of using blockchain to help with the financing of more renewable energy production is 100% in sync with the CCC,” says Community and Social Media Manager Aukse Siaudzionyte of the company’s membership. “WePower is happy to be working with other like-minded organisations because only by working together can we truly have an impact on the future of energy production for the better.”

The Coalition is supported by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the World Bank. Working teams have been formed to look into issues including use cases and pilots, research, standards, mitigation, adaptation and finance.

Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative

The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative was formed to bring blockchain to bear on making mobility “safer, more affordable and more widely accessible”, according to the launch press release.

Led by the automotive industry, its membership encompasses over 70% of global vehicle production in terms of market share, along with other companies involved in mobility. The goal is to “seek to foster an ecosystem where businesses and consumers have security and sovereignty over their driving data, manage ride-share and car-share transactions, and store vehicle identity and usage information”.

Examples of use cases MOBI will be working on include supply chain tracking, autonomous vehicle payments and usage-based mobility pricing and payments for vehicles, insurance, energy, congestion, pollution, infrastructure, etc.

“Blockchain and related trust enhancing technologies are poised to redefine the automotive industry and how consumers purchase, insure and use vehicles,” says MOBI Chairman and CEO Chris Ballinger, the former Chief Financial Officer and Director of Mobility Services at Toyota Research Institute. “By bringing together automakers, suppliers, startups and government agencies, we can accelerate adoption for the benefit of businesses, consumers and communities.”

While energy is obviously not a major focus for MOBI, and to date at least there are no energy sector members, some key blockchain use cases under development pertain to electric vehicle charging such as billing, vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-home. There is thus a degree of overlap indicating a need for information sharing across the various developments and opportunities for collaboration.

The participation of companies such as Accenture and IBM, whose Hyperledger platform is being piloted in the energy sector, should facilitate such collaboration.

As the transport sector decarbonises and electric and other forms of transportation grow, the need for collaboration will likewise continue to grow as the two sectors become ever more intertwined.