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Germany’s blockchain solution hopes to remedy energy sector limitations

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Distributed energy resources, or DERs, have the potential to disrupt traditional electricity markets. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that innovative countries are looking toward emerging technologies that will allow DERs to transform entire energy economies.

Germany in particular is interested in using DERs to drive its digital energy economy while also complying with the European Green Deal. As such, the Deutsche Energie-Agentur, also known as DENA — the main governmental group responsible for energy innovation in Germany — announced plans to trial a blockchain-based solution to construct a digital registry for DERs.

Sara Mamel, senior export in digitalization at DENA, told Cointelegprah that DENA unveiled a pilot project six weeks ago called the “Blockchain Machine Identity Ledger,” or BMIL. According to Mamel, BMIL is being implemented together with Energy Web, a blockchain-focused nonprofit, along with 20 other partners in the energy and blockchain sectors:

“This is a highly ambitious project with the goal of testing an infrastructure layer for the german digital energy system of the future. We want this project to have the biggest impact possible for the energy sector as a whole, which is why we have a highly innovative set-up.”

Blockchain for DER automation

Jesse Morris, the chief customer officer for Energy Web, told Cointelegraph that BMIL will construct a digital registry for DERs in Germany. Examples of DERs include rooftop solar photovoltaic power stations, battery energy storage like the Tesla Powerwall, smart thermostats and electric car charging stations. Morris added:

“For power grids around the world, this represents a massive shift in investment and infrastructure. From a centralized system with a relatively small number of very large power plants to a decentralized system with hundreds of millions of small assets working as part of a larger whole.”

According to Morris, a blockchain-based digital registry for DERs leverages decentralized identifiers that enable assets to self-register in the directory. This allows third parties like DER installers to easily verify claims about certain DERs. This solution should also help grid operators bring DERs into various market applications to provide grid services, which would serve as the basis for streamlined settlements after energy services are delivered.

This is extremely important, especially for a country like Germany, which ranks as the fourth-largest economy worldwide. It’s also interesting to point out that a European Parliament document on DERs suggests that by 2024, global deployment of DERs will have overcome the deployment of centralized energy generation. The document further states that in Germany, renewables produced from DERs hold a significant market share, paving the way for more decentralized energy production.

Pushing blockchain interoperability to its limits

If successfully executed, Morris explained that BMIL could serve as the basis for a wide range of DERs supporting both Germany’s wholesale and retail electricity markets: “This will make it easy, efficient and low cost for any DER in Germany to participate in the energy market. Grid operators and utility providers will also gain access to an untapped decarbonized Germany energy system.”

However, technical challenges remain. Mamel from DENA noted that BMIL is a project built around the premise of interoperability — one of blockchain’s greatest challenges to date. While DENA is technology agnostic, Mamel explained that DENA aims to test a solution that will be applicable to the German energy sector, which already consists of a decentralized framework with many industry players using different standards.

As such, DENA decided to take an interoperability approach to drive Germany’s energy economy, testing two blockchain development environments in BMIL. Both Ethereum and Substrate, the blockchain-building framework for Polkadot, will be applied, along with different concepts regarding decentralized identity protocols. “The results of this experiment remain to be seen, but we are highly confident that we might be setting a new standard for the energy industry as a whole,” said Mamel.

If interoperability challenges are met, the BMIL project could benefit the entire blockchain sector. For instance, Jonathan Waldenfels, a blockchain engineer at Energy Web, told Cointelegraph that one problem in the blockchain space is that there are many use cases running on various different chains. According to Waldenfels, BMIL tries to reflect just this in the pilot project:

“Energy Web looks to innovate in the blockchain space and wants to see how our tech stack, EW-DOS, can integrate with new technologies. For EW, this pilot is a great opportunity to explore how EW-DOS can be utilized across base use cases running on different chains on a shared identity registry. Secondly, it shows how EW-DOS can integrate into new blockchain technologies like Substrate and Polkadot.”

Waldenfels expects this use case to be a likely business architecture moving forward and hopes the energy sector can help the entire crypto industry see what’s possible by combining multiple chains and ecosystems under one umbrella with this project.

What about regulations?

Technical challenges aside, regulatory standards could also prove to be an issue for such solutions. Mamel explained that the German energy sector is among the most complicated and regulated ones in the world. As such, BMIL claims to be fully compliant with all regulations in the German energy sector. “It was of great importance for DENA to work hand in hand with existing regulatory guidelines, trying to enhance and boost existing regulation to the next level by providing interesting use cases to build a bridge between theory and practice,” said Mamel.

However, Mamel noted that important questions remain, such as how to ensure that the BMIL blockchain solution is compatible with the General Data Protection Regulation, along with understanding the regulatory challenges that might come up when DENA attempts a “full roll out” of the Blockchain Machine Identity Ledger in the German energy system.

Although concerns remain, using a blockchain solution for DERs is highly promising. Paul Brody, global innovation lead for blockchain at big four firm Ernst & Young, told Cointelegraph that this is an area of significant opportunity for blockchain technology because the nature of the power grid is changing in a way that elegantly matches the nature of blockchain software: It is becoming decentralized. Brody further noted that every industrial revolution has been closely linked with major developments in information technology:

“If we are going to have an industrial revolution that decentralizes power production and manufacturing with solar panels, batteries, and 3D printers, then it will probably be accompanied by an information technology revolution that is also decentralized.”



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17M Chinese tourists verify health using blockchain to visit Macau

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Chinese non-profit blockchain consortium FISCO BCOS, reports that blockchain-based health records have successfully enabled China to resume mainland tourism to Macau.

From May, Macau’s blockchain-powered medical data system has recognized the ID codes of the Guangdong health system of the mainland, allowing mainland Chinese tourists to verify their health status using the DLT-powered system when entering the autonomous region.

To date, more than 17 million tourists have cleared customs between Macau and China’s mainland using Macau’s blockchain health code. The announcement boasts that it takes just 100 seconds for mainland Chinese to generate a Guangdong health code for the first time, and roughly three seconds for future health verification when traveling through customs:

“The establishment of Macau blockchain health code and the mutual recognition mechanism with Guangdong health code greatly improves the efficiency and accuracy of information verification across borders. It proves to be an effective solution to bring travel between Chinese mainland and Macau back to normal.”

The system encrypts medical data to the FISCO BCOS consortium blockchain, which is immutably signed by issuing authorities. WeChat’s ‘WeIdentity’ solution is used to transfer data between Macau and Guangdong in adherence to Macau’s data protection regulations.

Macau’s health code system was introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which saw the territory suspend travel from mainland China in January.

The blockchain-powered “digital health passport” was developed by the Singaporean government-owned investment firm SGInnovate and local startup Accredify. The firms began working on the system in May to increase the efficiency of workflows among medical workers fighting the pandemic.

At the end of September, it was announced that the system had been used to verify coronavirus discharge records more than 1.5 million times.

Last week, local media revealed that the Chinese island province of Hainan is also seeking to trial a blockchain-powered rewards program to boost tourism as China’s economy reopens. Hainan was selected last year to host a regulatory sandbox for blockchain innovation.



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Nine Chilean cargo shipping companies approved to develop joint blockchain platform

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Chile’s National Economic Prosecutor’s Office, or FNE, has granted approval to nine national freight maritime cargo companies to establish a joint venture to develop a blockchain platform, the first of its kind in the region.

According to MundoMaritimo.cl, the platform will be named Global Shipping Business Network, or GSBN. It aims to handle all the processes related to maritime cargo such as document issuance and cargo clearance, among other services.

The solution is also expected to be offered to other companies in the industry and not just those involved in its development. As per the resolution issued by the FNE, CMA CGM, Cosco Shipping Lines, Cosco Shipping Ports, SIPG, Hapag-Lloyd, Hutchison Ports, OOCL, PSA, and Qingdao Port will be in charge of the GSBN’s development. The budget for the blockchain platform’s development was not disclosed.

Commercially sensitive information is not expected to be transferred through the GSBN blockchain platform, and Cointelegraph Spanish reported this meant it was possible to rule out the concern the use of the GSBN platform could facilitate “coordination” between the Shipping Constituents.

The project has been presented to the competition agencies of the United States, South Korea, Poland, and Ukraine, but there are no reports about their opinions about the platform as of press time.

Companies involved in the project were advised by Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría (PPU) which is led by the Free Competition partner Ignacio Larraín together with the associates Álvaro Espinosa, Gabriel Budnik, and Matías Palma, who are well-known players in the local’s cargo industry.

Recently, the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands launched a blockchain-based pilot with some of the world’s leading shipping companies to improve the safety and efficiency of millions of containers that are unloaded in the port every year.



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Peer-to-peer NFT sales surge as average purchase price increases 7X

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Non-fungible tokens and digital collectibles have been selling like hotcakes over the past couple of months as volumes on peer-to-peer marketplaces surge.

From NFTs representing NBA finals moments to crypto industry character cards, the total lifetime NFT volume on the Ethereum blockchain alone has exceeded $120 million, according to crypto research firm Messari.

Messari’s research tracked the demand for NFTs, which includes digital art, collectibles and in-game items, over the third quarter. It found the cumulative number of users who interacted with peer-to-peer NFT marketplace OpenSea surpassed 25,000, and that the platform saw a record $2 million in total volume in September;

Some of the most popular items on the marketplace include cards featuring popular crypto industry insiders such as Uniswap’s Hayden Adams and Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin.

The average NFT purchase price has also significantly increased over the third quarter reaching an average of $161, which is the highest since the early days of CryptoKitties in 2017 and seven times the historical average. Messari stated:

“Average spending on NFTs has beaten the historical average of $23 for 150 consecutive days.”

The research noted that digital art marketplace Rarible had launched its own liquidity mining incentives in the third quarter which caused volumes to surge to more than $10 million as traders bought and sold NFTs to earn RARI tokens.

Non-fungible token maker, Dapper Labs, has also had a highly successful week with its NBA Top Shot collectibles which have been selling out within minutes. The most recent set called “The Finals” included nine rare moments from the 2020 NBA finals which culminated with a Los Angeles Lakers win.

The sets of digitally verified rare collectibles, including trading cards and digital clips, sold for $230 per pack. When launched, The Finals sold $163,530 worth of NFTs in roughly two mins and the top buyers spent over $5,000 each on NFTs, according to cryptoslam.io.

A recent blog post noted that almost 8,600 NBA collectibles have been sold P2P for a combined sum of around $330,000 over the last two weeks.

NBA Top Shot, launched in full earlier this month after clocking over $2 million in revenue in private beta.





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