Evolving Sustainability Through the Peer-to-Peer Energy Market

Clean. It’s a word that means different things to different people. Yet in the energy world, “clean”, more often than not, refers to energy produced from renewable sources.

With solar prices continuing to plummet and become more affordable for consumers, a more efficient and localized peer-to-peer energy market needs to emerge as a means to monetize excess clean energy capacity.

This makes the whole idea behind a distributed energy grid that produces energy closer to the source and a peer-to-peer energy market not only practical, but rather sustainable, especially if our goal is to live in more productive harmony with nature. 

From an environmental perspective, solar and wind production are showing dramatic advances at the expense of dirtier fossil fuels which are bad for the environment. This growth in renewables is being helped along by the millennial generation’s demand for cleaner energy sources and smart technology that can propel a “plug and play” modern energy era.

Consider this: CO2 is a greenhouse gas associated with global warming and according to the 2017 EIA Annual Energy Outlook, electricity from coal emits 1,202 MMmt (Million metric tons) of CO2 and 555 MMmt of CO2 from natural gas.

Those figures don’t even include the emissions stemming from transporting coal to power plants via rail, truck or barge nor the negative impact weather may ultimately have on high-voltage transmission lines that must travel long-distances and unnecessarily lose energy capacity before delivering electricity to reach consumers.

From a financial perspective, it’s more economical for consumers to seek new ways to embrace emerging digital solutions in the energy sector, especially since solar power costs continue to fall dramatically versus fossil fuels.

This opens the door for a secure energy blockchain to be initiated to promote access to local clean energy through technological evolution. This idea of a peer-to-peer energy market is the best way to give “power” back to the people through a bi-directional flow of electricity that is less vulnerable to hacking or blackouts due an intelligent microgrid that is more communicative, like what is being moved forward at Brooklyn Microgrid.

It’s also worth noting that advances in IT technology have not only lowered operating costs in just about every sector in modern times, but it has also resulted in the transformation of industries (just look at how online shopping changed how we buy and sell goods or how Twitter and Facebook redefined the publishing space and how we ultimately communicate with each other in real-time). I’m expecting a similar transformation to happen in the energy sector with the help of blockchain technology. 

While Digital technologies are leading to more individual productivity and convenience, they can also result in a more sustainable use of natural resources which that are much better for the environment and could propel consumers to explore new digital solutions like blockchain in order to capitalize on increasing local demand for renewable energy sources.

This is why I’m excited to further explore how we can leverage blockchain technology to disrupt the transfer of energy as we presently know it through a newly created peer-to-peer energy market fueled by renewables and Big Data.

The end result can help expand the use of the word sustainability since it is possible for energy to drive sustainability in new ways: Make microgrids environmentally cleaner, lower material costs associated with community or residential energy infrastructure, create a new revenue stream for excess local solar capacity with your neighbors, and foster a more efficient energy supply management system that is truly localized at its very core.

This could also help create more local jobs - something highly likely considering the solar industry is adding jobs much faster than the overall economy. 

The fact that solar usage continues to grow by leaps and bounds thanks to lower entry points and is expected to grow a whopping sixfold by 2030 according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, coupled with offshore wind finally taking root in the U.S. makes developing a sound energy trading system around further renewable energy growth a no-brainer if one is truly interested in evolving sustainability one neighborhood at a time for present and future generations.

John Licata is a Strategist and Communications Lead at Blue Phoenix Inc. focusing on the future of energy and digital innovation. You can follow John on Twitter @bluephoenixinc

This article first appeared in Newsmax Finance.