Tech firm Electron gets UK funding for grid blockchain project

London-based energy tech company Electron has been awarded substantial funding from the UK government’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund to prove how blockchain will transform the market for balancing the electricity grid.

The grant will enable the company to scale and integrate a blockchain trading platform that allows electricity consumers to be paid to adjust their energy consumption to balance supply and demand in a system.

Electron says the opportunity is sizeable: “It is a à‚£1bn per annum market in the UK today, forecast to rise to around à‚£5bn by 2030 as the percentage of wind and solar capacity in the system rises.”

Electron’s application was supported by National Grid and Siemens ” on market design and technical implementation respectively ” who will continue to engage with Electron for the duration of the project.London tech firm Electron gets government funding for grid blockchain project

Unlike traditional trading platforms that match buyers and sellers on a one-to-one basis, Electron says its platform leverages blockchain technology to allow multiple parties to co-ordinate and share the value of a single consumer’s action.

This will maximise the overall value and liquidity of the flexibility market, at the same time as enabling individual purchasers of flexibility to share costs. The company refers to this concept as “collaborative trading”.

Electron’s chief executive, Paul Ellis, says that “blockchain is not just a technology. It is a revolutionary new way of transacting business without a central intermediary. Removing this intermediary enables new, better models of co-operation on an efficient, demonstrably fair platform.”

Separately, Electron’s platform has also been awarded 2017 tech pioneer status by the World Economic Forum. This award is given to companies who are developing innovative solutions and are poised to have significant positive impact on business and society.

Fulvia Montressor, Head of WEF’s Tech Pioneer programme said: “Electron’s pioneering use of blockchain tackles the energy usage challenge by increasing transparency and providing a framework for collaboration. Solutions like this are important tools to ensure energy needs are met while environmental impacts are minimized.”

In April, the former chief executive of RWE npower, Paul Massara, joined the board of Electron.

Paul Massara, who is now chief executive of North Star Solar, joined Electron as a director. He said at the time: “I am really excited about joining the board and investing in Electron. It is clear that blockchain will disrupt many markets including the energy market and having scanned the market, it was clear that Electron will be a major player.”

Electron says that it recognises the potential for blockchain to transform the shared virtual infrastructure of the energy industry, and is taking a top down, collaborative approach to platform development by working with various key stakeholders across the energy industry.

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