The energy and environment industry keeps booming, with consistently introduced innovations like electric cars and IoT-powered metering. Now, it’s blockchain’s turn, with huge promises to put smart contracts and cryptography-backed interoperable systems in place.

For now, blockchain’s potential for energy and environmental issues is mostly underestimated. To alleviate that confusion, a few years ago, the World Economic Forum released a report describing more than 60 possible blockchain use cases in the domain.

We won’t go into speculations or predictions. For today’s article, we picked real-life examples that show how DLT tools already disrupt energy and environment, inching them closer to another technological revolution.

Energy and Environment Decentralized: Blockchain Use Cases in the Industry

Electron Works on a Blockchain-enabled Infrastructure for Resource Exchange

The growth of electric vehicles has great potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Deloitte predicts that by 2030, solar and wind generation will constitute over 20% of the energy across 21 US states.

However, that immense volume of environmentally-friendly resources is not used to the fullest so far, which leads to resource imbalance within power grids. Blockchain-based power could turn the tide by establishing transparency and consistent resource tracking across the board. Eventually, energy scientists could perform more accurate calculations of distributed energy resource margins depending on the location and grid constraints.

And this is exactly what Electron does now. The company builds a blockchain-powered digital system, where scattered resource information is coordinated. Network members will be able to see the available assets as well as their provenance and ownership data.

Besides that, Electron plans to build a decentralized p2p marketplace uniting grid operators and a permissioned repository of resources.

Non-profit Auditability with the Solution from AidCoin

Non-profits continue posing a threat of fakes and falsification, so donors come to aid mostly unwillingly. Alas, environmental NGOs are not the exception to this trend, and blockchain can improve the situation the same way it does that for social good: through transparent and distributed infrastructure.

Eventually, donors could support, say, the construction of solar panels in low-income regions, with the progress information available to them in real-time via blockchain.

The AidCoin startup addresses the “lack of trust” issue through AidChain, a platform where energy charities meet. Having registered in the network, NGOs can start receiving donations in the form of blockchain-enabled digital assets.

Also, AidChain has its own exchange converting received assets into the internal one — AidCoin. Donors can then trace the entire flows of AidCoin transactions, including those performed off-chain.

UN to Introduce “Smart” Environmental Treaties

Environmental agreements, in all their versatility, make it challenging to adhere to all the established requirements; however, entering those seems relatively simple. As a result, when the UN Environment Program went investigating the issue of environmental treaties, most of these demonstrated no progress at all.

UN and Unicef jointly work to back blockchain initiatives with smart contracts. Though the development is still in its early stage, we can already speculate about the future these world-known organizations want to bring us.

At some point, environmental treaties can all be digitized, this way, becoming self-executing smart contracts, so overseeing their progress for compliance with rules might not be necessary in the long run.

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Plastic Bank and IBM to Prompt Recycling with Blockchain

Los Angeles Times reported that every year, nations generate more than 1,3bn tons of waste, projecting that this volume would keep growing, eventually reaching 4 m ton within the next century. Also, consider global recycling rates, and you will get the full disastrous picture of how polluted the modern world is.

Despite that, recycling adoption initiatives continue taking place and even grow in scope. Currently, these are several blockchain-based projects that incentivize recycling thorough blockchain-enabled assets.

One of such projects is the joint initiative of PlasticBank and IBM that combats ocean contamination with plastic waste through a rewarding system. In a nutshell, this works in a way that allows citizens to collect plastic (instead of dumping it in water) in exchange for blockchain-enabled monetary rewards. More to it, blockchain serves as a validation tool, ensuring that each reward will be provided promptly upon meeting requirements.

WePower Increases Green Energy Aggregation for Low-income Nations

However, in distant, low-income regions, waste collection tends to be a more critical issue than in developed countries. For instance, African residents collect only 10% of the generated waste, while the rest of the garbage gets dumped into streets, gutters, waterways, or somewhere else.

The results are pernicious and even deadly, leading to terminal pulmonary illnesses. MailGuardian confirms that 20,000 South Africans die from air pollution every year.

But enough with dreadful figures, let’s see what blockchain could offer there. Through a decentralized blockchain ledger, one could track emissions, secure, trusted, and forgery-proof. And since developing nations are the major victims of unsustainable waste management, the primary mitigatory initiatives should be oriented towards them.

One such initiative is a partnership between WePower and the Estonian government to establish “smart energy procurement” in developing nations. WePower represents a trading platform that connects green energy producers with buyers.

Producers can host green energy auctions with their own digital assets and sell energy wholly or partially. Each asset has a digital certificate of origin that buyers can validate through blockchain’s immutable history of transactions.

Veridium and IBM to Reduce Carbon Emissions with Blockchain

The last use case of today’s article demonstrates how blockchain can be implemented for carbon emission taxation purposes.

In December 2018, Veridium announced a partnership with IBM. Through blockchain technology, Veridium plans to convert carbon credits into fungible digital assets to be traded on a blockchain-enabled network for both public and private transactions.

As a result, companies will be able to check carbon footprints against validity via blockchain-based digital signatures. According to Veridium’s CEO Todd Lemons, blockchain-enabled emission measuring across supply chains will address global warming issues with the final aim of reducing environmental impacts.

Summing Up: Sea Changes are Coming

The use of blockchain will help reduce air pollution significantly, not to mention more automated, transparent, and less costly processes that will come with it. The technology is going to power up green energy and the sharing economy. For all that, blockchain will have a notable impact on the world’s economy.

With blockchain’s digitalization, the renewable energy sector will reach the ultimate goal of rapid energy transition across the board. Big things are going to happen, could you imagine something like that a few decades ago?

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