The GPEX News team caught up with Francois Sonnet, ElectriCChain Co-Founder and Solcrypto Advisor ahead of the Global Power & Energy Exhibition (GPEX) on 17-20 September 2018. Francois Sonnet, a member of the GPEX Advisory Committee, is helping to shape the agenda topics.
GPEX News: What does ElectriCChain do, and how does it contribute to driving the energy transition?
Francois Sonnet: ElectriCChain acts as an affiliate to the SolarCoin Foundation in providing support in the registration process to the SolarCoin programme and any affiliate may participate. ElectriCChain is also a platform to accelerate the growth of Solar Energy worldwide, IOT and Blockchain applications.
SolarCoin is an incentive for solar energy producers available worldwide and using blockchain technology. SolarCoins are granted to solar power producers at the rate of one SolarCoin per MWh of verified solar energy produced and can be granted through an API and dynamically embedded onto monitoring platforms and for solar asset managers. For example, ACWA Power, a leading developer, owner, and operator of power generation is the first large utility-scale generator to adopting the SolarCoin and would integrate SolarCoin to its solar installations.
Ultimately, the mission of the SolarCoin Foundation is to enable the Energy Transition and incentivize solar power producers on a global scale.
The goal of ElectriCChain is to build a network of +7million solar installations and using the SolarCoin Blockchain for multiple applications:
One of the projects of ElectriCChain, ElectraSeed, is a MicroGrid concept to be deployed in developing nations and received Jury Awards at COP22 - UNFCCC in Marrakech 2016 and is developed in open source as an open concept. Peer to Peer energy trading using blockchain will assist solar power producers and grid operators to keep track and value of the energy flowing to the grid in real-time. In the case of microgrid applications, participating solar installations would then use a closed grid infrastructure backed with Blockchain applications. This allows for monitoring of the solar installs and the microgrid, financing of the installs, telecoms and new and local business models.
ElectriCChain also acts as a support to SolarCoin affiliates and solar power producers, looking to use the SolarCoin blockchain for various applications including the registration process or the affiliate participation programme.
Finally, ElectriCChain, with its technical team at Solcrypto also develops tools logging solar energy data to the blockchain through datalogger devices and APIs and is currently researching on KYC, KYD, and KYE (Know your Client, Device, Energy) applications using different blockchains and layers.
GPEX News: Could you tell us more about your latest project?
Francois Sonnet: Currently, ElectriCChain is developing with its partner in Asia, Solcrypto, a multi-chain protocol and cross chaining for different blockchains and different purposes. As an example, the SolarCoin blockchain may serve as a rewards rail to motivate solar energy producers to participate in the Energy Transition, whilst the Ethereum blockchain fits a purpose of Peer to Peer energy exchange using smart contract applications and the IOTA Tangle might be most fitting from the datalayer perspective, in transporting information from point to point. In this last case, both blockchains need to interact under a standard communications protocol and the Peer to Peer energy exchange layer helps grid operators, solar power producers and solar asset managers interact on volumes, date time and price of the energy delivered to the grid.
Through the Solcrypto affiliate, ElectriCChain is also analysing blockchain applications for KYD, KYC and KYE of energy produced through data loggers. In this last case, the device might be able to burn its own “identity” into the blockchain, allowing for unspoofable energy production data to be logged to the blockchain. The latest project of ElectriCChain is a KYD-KYC and KYE device. This is burnt directly into the Blockchain which allows to single-track the energy production values of either solar installation in a secured way as the Blockchain is unhackable. Once the data has been burned into the blockchain, a power producer may identify on volumes, time and tag a price to the values produced.
Another project which ElectriCChain is also developing is in direct conjunction with microgrid applications and peer to peer energy exchange, the ElectraSeed concept. This can be deployed in developed nations for specific purposes as well as developing nations. In this case, a microgrid can replace the use and deployment of western-utility and grid infrastructure models, allowing for solar power producers effectively working in a closed microgrid to put at disposition solar energy to the grid.
GPEX News: What would you say are the key challenges of the transition to a low carbon energy system?
Francois Sonnet: I’d say that the hard part to initiating the Energy Transition is to tackle specific Government Regulation and align support towards mechanisms that enable such Energy Transition. The SolarCoin initiative aims to allow any solar power producer to participate in the SolarCoin Community. SolarCoin benefits the entire solar value chain:
Associations and the SolarCoin Foundation has just launched a Government Policy Paper and Call to Action. The SolarCoin Digital Asset protects natural capital (ie, solar energy) and fosters innovation onto its open source platform. Tools developed within the SolarCoin Community are available to solar power producers under a Linux-Foundation approach, hence open-sourced and available to the solar energy industry.
Of course, the Energy Transition is already happening and we see traction and developments in developed nations as well as developing nations. India, for example, has set an ambitious goal of 100GWp in the next years, as well as China, and Europe has just celebrated last year the 100GWp of installed capacity. The goal of the IEA and IRENA is to reach, according to optimistic scenarios, up to 5.000GWp of solar power capacity in the next 25 years horizon. SolarCoin, as a rewards scheme, has been developed for a 40-year horizon in sustaining the Energy Transition and the SolarCoin Foundation aims to deliver 98.5 billion SolarCoins to solar power producers across the globe.
The SolarCoin Digital Asset also offers a democratic participation approach, open and energy efficient. It has been referred to that the SolarCoin Blockchain is up to 100 times more energy efficient than the Bitcoin blockchain, which would also guarantee to sustain a green blockchain initiative. What’s more, the SolarCoin Blockchain is democratic in the sense that any solar power producer may register his solar installation to the network and sustain the network in running the SolarCoin Wallet Application, which allows for global distribution of the project.
GPEX News: Where do you see your business in the next 5-10 years?
Francois Sonnet: The aim of the SolarCoin Foundation is to support the energy transition on a long-term scale and the SolarCoin project has been set up for a 40 year period, running until 2050 and for the support of up to 98.5 billion SolarCoins. We see the ElectriCChain as an early and core participant to the SolarCoin initiative. Ultimately, blockchains are an open and participative tool, so we see the role of ElectriCChain increasing as the SolarCoin initiative gains traction, in delivering open source tools to the solar energy industry and solar power producers across the globe.
Indeed, we see diminishing prices for solar energy across the board, think Mexico’s PPAs at 17USD/MWh and UAEs at 18USD/MWh. With energy becoming a commodity, the SolarCoin initiative may well represent a real value for the effective energy produced and delivered to the grid. Further expanding initiatives such as NRGcoin would trigger power producers to shift energy delivery to the grid in time, and there might well be a battery-coin around the corner for incentivizing on storing your energy.
So whereas at this moment in time, SolarCoins would be an Asset to a company’s balance sheet, and in the medium term a financial product, SolarCoin might well become a digital currency in its own right, and what’s more to it, one supported by solar energy production.
GPEX News: You are a member of the Advisory Committee of GPEX 2018, what do you expect the outcomes of the event to be?
Francois Sonnet: This is the first time that such an event is organized in Barcelona and it will enable global companies to connect with different groups and initiatives such as start-ups, NGOs and Public Government Figures. This is an important initiative as currently the need for such initiatives needs to be recognized and correlated with communities as well as larger corporations. GPEX, through its network of companies participating in the event, will facilitate a better understanding that the future isn’t tomorrow, it’s now!