Today Vodafone Business announced a deal with blockchain network Energy Web to integrate distributed energy resources (DERs) with power grids using IoT and blockchain technology. Vodafone is one of the world’s largest telecoms firms, with 625 million customers in 2019, primarily in Europe and Africa.
For renewable energy generation, energy assets including solar panels, wind turbines and batteries need to communicate with the grid and require a secure identity to do so. Hence the partnership plans to deploy SIM-centric blockchain technology (SCB) with IoT connectivity from Vodafone Business.
The process is very similar to how mobile phones have unique identities so that each energy asset can be identified. That way, the grid can communicate when the asset should release energy to the grid or tell it to switch off or store it.
Increasingly electric car batteries are viewed as a good available storage solution for excess energy and numerous car companies are partnering with utilities for tests such as Nissan and Envision in the Netherlands and Fiat Chrysler and Terna in Italy.
“We are seeing the convergence of multiple sectors in making the energy transition happen — the energy sector, of course, but also automotive, telecoms, and even finance. From our perspective, the energy sector can only evolve so fast and so far without taking into account IoT connectivity,” said Walter Kok, CEO of Energy Web. “Bringing together EW’s expertise in energy and decentralization with Vodafone Business’s leadership in IoT creates a really powerful combination.”
Gartner research showed that in 2019 there was an installed base of 4.8 billion IoT endpoints, of which the largest proportion by far is in utilities at 1.1 billion. In Greater China and Western Europe, electricity smart meters represent 26% and 12% of total IoT endpoints.
“As the number of decentralised, new-generation, low-carbon devices grows, so does the need for them to be securely connected regardless of their location,” said Erik Brenneis, Vodafone Business IoT director. “This connection needs to be simple and secure, ensuring assets are easily able to be connected to, and managed by, energy and communication networks around the globe.”
Vodafone Business has more than 100 million IoT connections worldwide and also has an IoT cross selling deal with China Mobile.
Energy Web has more than a hundred affiliates and continues to ink deals around the world. This year Shell funded startup sonnen worked with Energy Web to store excess wind energy in Germany, so that wind turbines don’t need to be switched off or curtailed when demand is low. It is also involved in a project for the Austrian Power Grid and another in Japan.