Blockchain in the energy sector is moving forward - Key takeaways from the EventHorizon 2018

The EventHorizon 2018 was a spectacular show but at the same time a worthwhile information session on the status quo of blockchain applications for the energy sector. Although there are no solutions market-ready yet, the different initiatives have taken first crucial steps to come closer to real applications. Especially the pitches from more than 40 startups provided some nice examples of what could become possible with the Energy Web Chain. The EWF itself provided first examples of dApps (like Origin and D3A) for the energy sector. The progress that the ecosystem of blockchain in the energy sector has made within the last 12 months is remarkable and makes us confident that we will see more applications than concepts at the next EventHorizon 2019!  

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German Electricity Market in 2017 – records for battery storage and redispatch

TenneT published its market report for Germany and the Netherlands and provides some very interesting insights:  While wholesale prices increased, power plant operators were facing decreasing revenues close or below zero. The first tenders for renewable generation reached low subsidy-levels below 7€cent/kWh and the market utility-scale battery storage seemed to take-off, but remains a rather small market for now. Redispatch in Germany reached a new record, which lead to costs of more than 1 billion for TenneT alone.

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The German energy sector in 2016 – Competition gains, but digitalization…

How did the German electricity sector develop in 2016? This question is answered by the annual monitoring report by the Federal Network Agency in Germany (BNetzA). In this post we summarize the key findings of this report: Competition in generation and retail still on the rise, gas power plants the big winner 2016, renewable capacity increased, but production remained stable and wholesale prices dropped again. 

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6 principles for a market design that enables the energy transition

The current market design in the energy sector is challenged by decentralization and digitalization. In this post we discuss six economic principles that provide a framework for an efficient market design that is capable of facilitating the energy transition towards renewables and digital services. Among others we discuss the requirement that the market design needs to become more flexible to adapt to local market failures and to an increasing speed of innovation driven by digitalization. 

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German Utilities struggle with digitalization – especially the retail sector

Utilities in Germany and around the globe strive to become service-based energy providers to address the challenges arising from decentralization and digitalization. In this post we discuss two recent surveys that show two things: Utilities are struggling to enter the smart home market and their adaption of existing digital solutions is very slow. Especially the retail sector does not apply many digital solutions, even though retail is at the heart of a service-based utility. One response to these shortcomings by some utilities are digital attackers that are launched now in Germany to digitize retail business. Is this the right strategy?

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Blockchain: The basis for disruptive innovation in the energy sector?

The potential for an application of blockchain technology is one of the most discussed topics in the energy sector at the moment. Though blockchain technology is often described as a disruptive technology, we stress in this post that blockchain is a fundamental technology that provides the basis for new applications that in the future might become disruptive innovations in the energy sector.  

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Asset- vs. Service-based Business Models – Where Lies The Future For Utilities?

In Germany, E.on and RWE (innogy) separated their core business units into two different companies and it became inherent that utilities have to change their business strategy to survive in a future distributed energy system. Now, what do the two strategies of Innogy and E.on tell us about the future of the utility business in general? In the following we will present to you different business models that have been introduced by PWC (2014). We will try to show how the current strategies of E.on and Innogy fit into this framework.

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Digital platforms in the energy sector – definition & first applications

Digital platforms are on the rise in many sectors. Currently, the question is raised which role digital platforms could play in the energy sector, especially in distributed systems based on renewable energies.  However, there seems to be no clear understanding of what a platform or a platform market acually is. Therefore, we provide a definition of platforms and platform markets and discuss some potential applications of these in the energy sector.

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TSO & DSO coordination – key for the integration of renewables

The increasing shares of renewables increase the pressure on the existing electricity system in Germany. The network operators are increasingly applying congestion management measures (redispatch, feed-in management) to balance the grid in times of high production from renewables. While this is currently a primary task of the transmission system operator, the distributed character of the energy transition requires a more decentralized approach. Now, the question how to organize the TSO-DSO coordination efficiently becomes a very important issue.  

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The Coordination Problem: A key challenge for Smart Grids

Coordination between distributed generation and the network operators is becoming a key issue for the energy transition. With smart grids, the complexity of the coordination issue is increasing. What is the coordination problem, how does it relate to liberalization and why is it becoming a pressing issue for smart grids?  

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Cleantech startups: German utilities bridging the valley of death?

Cleantech startups suffered from several challenges in the past. Most prominently, many startups failed to acquire enough venture capital for a market rollout. This is currently changing in Germany. We discuss in this post what exatly is changing in Germany and how three factors together increase the chances of cleantech startups to succeed in the German energy market. 

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Blockchain in the energy sector: Institutional disruption?

Blockchain is driving a lot of discussions in the energy sector lately. Let us suppose that the blockchain technology can overcome its current challenges and unlock its potential in the energy sector: Which institutional implications could we expect in a scenario where the blockchain becomes a standard tool in the energy sector? What happens with retail or network operation? How about regulation? These are the questions we try to address in this post. 

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