Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Port of Rotterdam testing blockchain and AI for renewables trading

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The Port of Rotterdam’s blockchain subsidiary, Blocklab, has been trialing a decentralized electricity trading system to help lower costs and optimize the use of renewables on its microgrid.

The system, called Distro, has been jointly developed by Blocklab and S&P Global Platts, and has been operational as a trial for two months.

Distro uses blockchain technology, smart contracts, and artificial intelligence to support the decentralized and high frequency trading of renewable energy by commercial consumers looking to optimize and manage their energy use. It matches demand with the intermittent power generated from different sources, specifically solar and battery storage.

Each market participant is allocated an AI energy trading agent that learns their behavior, choices, and needs and provides them with energy at the optimal price. Buyers and sellers can access localized and dynamic prices for energy and the system is designed to deter excessive power consumption when generation is low by offering lower prices when the supply is abundant. Blocklab says this builds upon  ”proven practices in commodities and financial market[s],” optimized through AI to automatically balance supply and demand. 

The trial involved 20 million blockchain-validated, cleared and settled transactions, which cumulatively lowered the cost for commercial users by 11% and improving local renewables producers’ revenues by 14%.

Significantly, use of the system increased the consumption of on-site solar generation by 92%, which Blocklab argues can help to combat energy waste. Most ambitious is the claim that Distro could ostensibly help enterprises to deliver a “carbon reduction saving of up to 30 million tonnes.”

The Port of Rotterdam’s director of new business development and portfolio, Nico van Dooren, said:

Balancing local electricity needs with local generation holds the key to unlocking significant grid infrastructure savings. We are excited about the prospects of scaling this solution and the meaningful contribution it can make towards helping The Port of Rotterdam become carbon neutral by 2050.

Smart contracts are used in the high frequency trading system in order to enforce market rules, validate transactions, and manage digital identities. The immutable and transparent properties of blockchain, combined with provisions for privacy and cryptographic verification, will hold up to industry audit requirements, write Blocklab and S&P Global Platts.

A banking environment for virtual accounts used for transfers in the marketplace was provided for by ABN AMRO’s Banking-as-a-Service sandbox.

As Cointelegraph has previously reported, the Port of Rotterdam is no stranger to blockchain technology. This summer, the port launched a pilot to tokenize traditional shipping PINs, and has also been one of the major international ports to become involved with the blockchain logistics platform TradeLens.

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