As the economy projects more demand in the utility industry, it’s also getting plagued with a lot of issues. This guide will address all of the problems and drive a link between blockchain and utility management to understand how this technology can solve all the problems.
The utility is a big spectrum to work with. It covers all of the elements we need to function on a daily basis – gas, electricity, and water. These are some of the basic elements of utility, but the spectrum for these is way vaster.
The issue is our consumption of these utilities or energies is not efficient enough. As a result, we are slowly burning through our reserve and also emitting a lot of carbon into our atmosphere. Due to various mismanagement and corruption, the companies in this industry also face major losses every year.
Using blockchain in utility can change the scenario. Although blockchain is not the sole cure for all the problems in this sector. But it does have the ability to reduce a good portion of it. So, we will see how this technology can affect this industry and our day to day lives.
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Blockchain In Utility: What Are the Issues of This Sector?
In reality, this sector comes with a lot of issues, and most of them need an immediate solution. That’s why using blockchain in the utility industry will help out in terms of addressing and reducing all of the problems.
Low Customer Satisfaction
One of the major issues of this industry is decreasing customer satisfaction. In reality, the infrastructure for this industry still runs on a very old model. As a result, it can’t keep up with the changing behavior of the customers. Thus, consumers are not satisfied with what they are getting.
For example, a quarter of the population in the U.S. don’t seem to drink tap water. But why, though? This is strictly because of the bad smells, which relates to the fear of water safety. So, if the population doesn’t feel safe to drink it, then the utility sector has gravely failed in this regard.
Increasing Maintenance Costs
Maintenance costs of these sectors are extremely high. According to experts, distribution and transmission infrastructures were not up to the mark and had very little investment. On the other hand, due to the lack of insufficient investment, this sector’s maintenance cost is on the rise. As a result, the service performance is not up to the mark, decreasing the reliability of the infrastructure.
Do you know what that means? It means less reliable infrastructure results in more maintenance cost, and again it decreases the quality. It’s a never-ending loophole where both the cost will keep rising, and the quality will keep decreasing.
Ineffective Asset Management
Assets are the basis of the utility and power industry. Practically, these are pipelines, transformers, electric cables, and many more. But in reality, the organizations don’t have a proper comprehensive view of their assets in one place. As a result, they find it quite hard to keep track of all the assets and manage them accordingly. But without proper management, the performance will drop drastically and so will increase the cost to maintain them. Also, as most of these companies still use paper-based documents, it even more hard work for them in the long run. So, asset management is a really important factor when it comes to utilities.
Coordination in Distributed Power Generation
Power generation is strictly centralized, and it’s been that way for a long time. However, due to the emergence of new and better technologies, the model is now facing challenges more than ever before. The issue with the distributed power model is that there is insufficient infrastructure to coordinate between them.
Now the government or other authorities are asking the utility industry to accommodate both centralized and distributed power sources. That means the companies have to offer safety and reliability in both directions and the client. But this is not a simple task, and the industry is not fully equipped to manage the problems.
Poor Cyber Security
It may seem like that this industry doesn’t deal with cyber-attacks, but in reality, this industry has to deal with this type of attack as well. In reality, whether it was for financial or any kind of political reason, but the utility sector is heavily targeted by bad actors. More so, the attempts to breach the system are only growing, and the infrastructure is definitely not suited for handling that.
As these systems have a single point of failure, the bad actors can use that vulnerability and launch an attack. So, this is why this sector needs a strong networking system that can safeguard all of the data from the bad players.
Across all the industries in the utility sector, the investment in environmental responsibility will increase in the future even more. At present, none of these sectors have the capability to offer clean energy in any way. More so, electric and gas-based utilities will have the most impact in this regard. In reality, the issue is that this sector releases a hefty amount of carbon into the environment. So, reducing them is a major challenge.
As they have no way to track their emissions, they can’t implement certain protocols in place to maintain or reduce them in any way.
The changing pricing of utilities is a massive point of concern for consumers. In reality, the prices can depend heavily on the economy of a country or the world. So, any shift in the global economy may alter the pricing. But the issue comes when the consumers have to keep up with the price shifting.
More so, it’s an even bigger concern for commercial and industrial customers as they have to pay up to a large scale of fees in terms of getting the services. Even at this moment, these companies don’t have a certain desktop app or mobile app to inform the customers of the change. Therefore, it really decreases customer satisfaction and increases tension in the industry.
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Inefficient Energy Storing
Another massive issue is the energy storage problem. Not only energy, but any kind of utility also does not have sufficient storage management as it needs. Due to the lack of proper management, the companies fail to meet the demands of the customers in this case.
For instance, many companies don’t have a good and secured storage option for electricity. Thus, in several stages, the produced electricity is lost, and the world faces serious blackouts.
In a world where people mostly rely on electronics and various products that need electricity, a blackout can easily disrupt that lifestyle.
The main problem is the increasing amount of corruption in this sector. For instance, many consumers have to face false or documented utility bills, even though they clearly know they did not consume that much energy. However, due to the lack of proper security in place, bad player within the system exploits that.
In some cases, high authority personals are even in the scheme of fraudulent billing. So, complaining or taking any step against these bills does not bear any results. The situation is massively out of control at the moment, and consumers are the ones suffering because of it.
Lack of Transparency
All of the processes in the utility industry does not have any transparency. Thus, many can exploit it for their personal gain. It may be exploiting the company itself or even exploiting the customers. Due to this issue, many of the documents get tampered with, and the company has to deal with the situation when it’s too late.
More so, this also damages the reputation of companies if the company lets the situation escalate.
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Benefits of Blockchain In the Utility Sector
Now that you know about this sector’s probable issue, you should also learn how blockchain can offer benefits to this sector.
Blockchain offers some basic features that can come in handy in this regard. For example, blockchain offers transparency, and that can help this sector to fight corruption. So, using blockchain in the utility sector for increasing transparency at every stage is a massive plus point.
Again, the amount of security you will get using blockchain in the utility industry is astonishing. There are already many popular applications in the market that does offer security, but none of them are even close to the blockchain.
In reality, the use of cryptography and other protocols to safeguard and verify every single data will ensure the integrity of this sector. So, no matter how much bad players try to infiltrate the network, they can’t do it.
The distributed nature of the technology will also help you to preserve consumer trust. As you already know, consumers are slowly losing their trust because of centralized authorities’ increasing influence. But as blockchain can help to sustain a decentralized approach, it will be easier to trust the system as the centralized authority will have very little power over the network.
This is why you should definitely use blockchain in utility to get the best option for your business.
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Use Cases of Blockchain In Utility
There are many popular use cases in this sector. Here, we will go through some of the most effective ones currently being used in the market. So, let’s see what they are –
One of the first uses of blockchain in the power sector is the tokenizing of utilities. In reality, most of the country wastes more or less energy. But the U.S. seems to be at the number 1 spot. Did you know that almost 71% of the energy is lost in transportation?
More so, over 20% of utility in the manufacturing sector is not even used! This is surely not an effective way to handle all our utility needs when we have minimal resources when it comes to utilities.
However, using blockchain to tokenize these utilities will help in reducing a large amount of wastage. More so, tokenizing these utilities will help keep track of the energy on a day-to-day basis.
Proper Microgrid Maintenance
Another popular use case of blockchain in utility trading is microgrid maintenance. Previously, the centralized power grid was considered a good source of energy, but with time it resulted in more energy losses and inefficient. To help deal with this, microgrids are introduced. It actually localizes the electric grids and helps to keep the power going.
But they also need a proper monitoring network system. Here, blockchain can step in and help to monitor all the energy transactions. More so, it can also help in monitoring the consumption of power to predict the demands from beforehand.
Peer to Peer Energy Trading
Another great use of blockchain in the power sector is peer-to-peer energy trading. In reality, one of our basic utility is electricity. However, the utility industry is too inefficient to meet up with all the demands of the consumers. As a result, many countries don’t have a constant stream of electricity every single day.
But with blockchain, the consumers can utilize their untapped source of electricity. For example, they can sell batter storage or any form of solar power directly to another peer that needs it. Therefore, it will not only solve the issue, but it will also create a new type of business opportunity for individuals.
Automated Incentive for Renewable Adoption
The popularity of renewable utility is on the rise. In reality, the process of extracting many utility elements are harming the environment in different ways. So, the pressure for companies to adopt new and improved energy sources is at an all-time high. However, many companies are still not eager to start implementing the necessary infrastructure for that.
More so, in many cases, the consumers don’t want to follow certain rules in how they manage the utility they are getting. But with blockchain, governments or proper authorities can offer automated incentives for the people or companies that adopt renewable infrastructures.
This use of blockchain in the power sector will slowly create an interest in reusing utilities.
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Accelerating Electric Vehicle Adoption
Electric vehicles are dependent on utilities more than ever now. As they run on electricity and need it to function properly, it’s another major element that consumes a lot of energy.
Although the concept of electric cars was a foreign concept in even the last decade, it’s all real at this moment. More and more companies are rolling out their own electric vehicle type to streamline clean energy protocol.
Thus, one of the most prominent blockchain use cases in utilities is the acceleration of electric vehicle adoption. Using blockchain, the companies can have a proper networking system in place and offer a trading system between drivers.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
Another massive issue of this sector is the increased amount of carbon emission that happens due to the production of these utilities. This increased amount of carbon is causing massive harm to the environment. However, as these companies don’t have a proper tracking option, they can’t track them and reduce emissions strategically.
But with blockchain use cases in utilities, it’s possible to reduce the carbon emission for good. In reality, blockchain in the utility industry will offer a tracking method. This method will quickly pin-point the risk zones and help to reduce the emission more strategically. So, the companies can finally track down and eliminate this problem for good.
Reduced Maintenance Costs
Another one of the blockchain use cases in utilities is the reduced maintenance costing the industry. As you already know, the maintenance costs of these sectors are extremely high. On the other hand, due to the lack of insufficient investment, this sector’s maintenance cost is on the rise. As a result, the service performance is not up to the mark, and it decreases the reliability of the infrastructure.
This is where blockchain can come into play. In reality, blockchain can help to streamline the whole supply chain more effectively. This way, companies will know what is going on at what stage. This will reduce the cost of maintenance and help to avoid any bad circumstances.
Provide Wholesale Utilities
Another wonderful use of blockchain is in utility trading. Here, companies can focus on distributing wholesale utilities to the end-users. So, by combining blockchain with IoT devices, they can easily track and trade the utilizing without any issues. More so, this way, consumers can buy the utility directly from the source rather than going through any retailers. The billing and metering process of the utilities can be done from a single point. So, it’s more convenient for a lot of people. Also, public blockchain platforms are perfect for this type of project.
Better Utility Data Management
Blockchain in utility trading can offer a better data management system. In reality, all of the processes in the utility industry does not have any transparency. Thus, many can exploit it for their personal gain. It may be exploiting the company itself or even exploiting the customers. Thus, without proper data management and security in place, the situation will only get worse.
But with blockchain in utility, the industry will get the transparent system it needs. More so, blockchain can offer tamper-proof data management, which will help not only sort the data but also secure them.
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Companies Using Blockchain In Utility Industry
Enel Group is using blockchain in the utility sector for utility trading. According to the company, the process was super smooth, and it didn’t need any central broker to do it. More so, they had to invest less money in electricity procurement because there was no middleman.
Engie is another company that is using blockchain in the utility industry for streamlining in-house blockchain implementation. In reality, they already tested out the proof of concept of their project and rolled out 2 products – Rockside and Dojo. So far, they are using Ethereum as the base of the project.
TEPCO is also using blockchain in their power company. Together with the Itochu Corporation, they are working on a platform that will trade surplus electricity. More so, the company will soon start a proof-of-concept project in the first half of the coming 2021.
E.ON is also using blockchain for the power industry. In reality, they already developed a platform that will help their customers get full transparency and control over their own energy consumption. More so, they also applied for a patent on this new form of system.
KEPCO or Korea Electric Power Corporation is also using blockchain in power distribution. At present, they signed a contract with two local suppliers for transacting Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). They believe blockchain can open up new possibilities for them in the long run.
Iberdrola is one of the major Spanish electricity utility company. In reality, this company is also using blockchain in power distribution. More so, they recently completed a blockchain-based test to see if the supplied power and consuming power is fully renewable. And they are pleased to announce that the project was a huge success. Now they will use blockchain to accelerate renewable energy adoption.
Exelon is also one of the companies that are using blockchain in utility. Well, actually, one of their sub-company ComEd is the one using the technology in this sector to increase efficiency in every way. They are also planning to test out the technology for over three years to fully grasp the concept.
Kansai Electric Power
Kansai Electric Power is using blockchain in utility for utility trading purposes. More so, they plan to use solar power as the trading utility. However, they are still testing out the technology, and we don’t have any idea about any definitive platform yet.
Centrica is also using blockchain in utility for peer-to-peer utility trading. At present, they are working with Verv and is in the middle of a trial on how the community energy is traded P2P. More so, the trial is working with local communities to see how the training system will actually go.
TenneT is another massive company that’s using blockchain in utility for offering a unique way of electricity distribution. The project mainly includes taking electricity from consumer batteries, solar panels, and electric vehicles to maintain electric power supply and demand. Here, blockchain can offer a perfect blend of supply and can streamline the whole process thoroughly.
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The utility industry is truly a vast industry that needs to make certain changes in the infrastructure to keep up with the fast-paced world. We mentioned a lot of issues in this sector in this guide. All of these issues are extremely crucial and needs to be solved as soon as possible.
That’s why using blockchain in utility can help the industry from falling apart. Using this technology will ensure that the consumers are trusting the companies again, and it will also get rid of any corruption. We believe this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the utility industry to use blockchain and upgrade their systems for the better.
So, any novice who want to understand this technology a bit better and want to implement blockchain projects in this industry should start with our free blockchain course. You can also enroll in blockchain courses in order to become a skilled professional. Why wait? Take the first step towards your goal now!
*Disclaimer: The article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide any investment advice. Claims made in this article do not constitute investment advice and should not be taken as such. 101 Blockchains shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this article. Do your own research!