Slovenian energy sector gearing up for blockchain
The panel in Ljubljana, entitled Energy and Blokchain, heard that energy companies, which are studying the system and already using it for individual projects, will be forced to change their business models.
The technology is particularly interesting at the micro level, since there is an increasing number of users who are also the producers of electricity and contributors to the grid, for instance via solar panels.
"The users will be able to avoid intermediaries, which means things will be cheaper and more efficient for them," explained Rok Vodnik, management board member at Slovenia's energy group Petrol.
While Petrol is already working on projects incorporating blockchain, for instance in the field of electric cars, Vodnik highlighted the problem of the regulatory framework not being able to keep up with technological development.
Marko Svetina of Cybergrid echoed this, arguing that a substantial gap exists between what is enabled by regulations and what is offered by the technology.
He said the key advantage of blockchain in energy is not only a slightly lower price but above all a simple way to trace the energy source. Svetina feels buyers will probably be ready to pay more for energy coming from their village than for energy coming from a nuclear plant at the other end of Europe.
Gen-I, the biggest energy trader in the county, has also formed a group studying the field, although the head of strategic innovation Dejan Paravan noted that "caution when thinking about where the technology can be used".
He however feels that given its small size and the flexibility that comes with it, Slovenia could be more proactive when it comes to regulation.
The founder of cryptocurrency brokerages Bitstamp and Tokens.net said that the "smart contract" element of the technology, which automatically executes the provisions agreed by the parties to the contract, will be key for the energy sector.
This aspect also received some attention in the debate, in particular because of the implications it could have for intermediaries such as banks, lawyers and notaries.