Imagine buying an electric car with electricity supply as part of the bundle.
It is the kind of market innovation that energy deregulation was to usher. The reality is different.
A deregulated market usually starts with many retail players, but over time re-aggregates into huge oligopolies. The losers will be consumers, who end up locked into specific retailers who discourage innovation or disruption.
Steve Hoy, CEO at the Enosi Foundation sees an answer: the blockchain.
"Every time we see decentralization and deregulation, we see a separation of grid companies and retail companies. What we see later is a reaggregation of those retail companies into larger oligopolies with little incentive for innovation. We are looking to address this with blockchain," Hoy said.
The blockchain solution, called the Enosi Platform, will use permissioned private blockchain technology. It is essentially a set of open source smart contracts that an Enosi Decentralized Autonomous Organization (EDAO), working with a licensed energy retailer, can deploy. In turn, the EDAO will offer decentralized apps (dApps) to electricity consumers.
Together, the EDAOs and their dApps will take over the role that large energy retailers currently perform, like collating metering data, billing, buying from wholesalers or directly from the regulated grid and selling electricity. Hoy sees the costs will be much smaller and transparent to all participants.
By decoupling the retailers from the wholesale market or the energy grid, the Enosi Foundation is looking to spark innovation.
"For instance, consumers can start selling electricity to each other, or even donate to a specific organization," Hoy said.
One example is when a school wants to buy more electricity. The Enosi Platform can help the parents to donate solar energy from their rooftops or purchase electricity for the school for the kids' use.
Hoy hopes to enable many such platforms. It will also allow businesses to create innovative bundle electricity with products, (like the above example of selling electric cars with electricity that BMW explored).
Blockchain will protect consumers from those who sell the same contract twice. "It is the same problem that Bitcoin looked to solve: double spend. So how do you know if I am selling the same electricity supply to you and others at the same time? The answer to that lies with blockchain," Hoy said.
Will the energy market buy into the Enosi Foundation’s vision?
Hoy is not waiting to find out. He is preparing his organization to launch an ICO campaign to ramp up funds using their ERC20 token called JOUL. Participants will need the same token to participate in the Enosi Platform.
The Enosi Platform will also be open source and deployable without the need for microgrids or incumbent grid partners. Any retailer (what the Enosi Foundation calls as the Neo-retailers) can compete with utility giants. Developers can also use the open source code to develop other innovative apps.
The Enosi Foundation is also pursuing “a multi-pronged strategy” to work with all stakeholders of the energy market, including think tanks, and other foundations such as California Clean Energy Fund, Energy Locals, Enova Community Energy, Solar Analytics, and Australian Photovoltaic Institute. It also signed a cooperative research agreement with the University of New South Wales.
The ultimate benefactor will be the planet. As secondary electricity trading takes off, Hoy sees more consumers will start looking at the source of the energy production, helping to elevate clean energy demand.
"It should be as easy and varied as deciding what types of shoes you want to buy. Consumers will be able to impact the production of electricity," Hoy said.