Traditional power grids are centralised, which can create inefficiencies in energy distribution, like having unused surplus. And in parts of the world affected by natural disasters or poverty, power outages can leave people without access to electricity. A blockchain-based energy system can significantly reduce the need to transmit electricity over long distances, and also help reduce the need for energy storage, as such trading can move electricity locally from where it’s being produced in excess to where it’s needed. Transactive Grid is working on a blockchain platform that solves this problem.
Blockchain platforms could provide cryptographic tokens with a tradable value to optimise existing market platforms for carbon (or other substances) and create new opportunities for carbon credit transactions. The Chinese Carbon Credit Management Platform is an ideal example. Leveraging the technology, with smart contracts, the transparency, auditability and credibility of the Chinese carbon market is being increased. In the near future, it is conceivable blockchain could underpin a global carbon trading market for individuals, households or organisations.
To add more value, tracking carbon footprint of each product using the blockchain would protect this data from tampering, and it can be used to determine the amount of carbon tax to be charged on at the point of sale. A blockchain-based reputation system could also give each company and product a score based on the carbon footprint of the products they sell. This would make manufacturing more transparent, and discourage wasteful and environmentally-unfriendly practices.
Blockchain could also underpin a new shared system for multiple parties involved in disaster preparedness and relief to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, coordination and trust of resources. A well-designed system could enable a wide range of actors to share crucial information automatically in the event of a disaster through smart contracts.
A basic feature of blockchain - immutability, traceability and security. Data on chain stays there. Once blockchain becomes widely used by corporations, governments and large data generators, the path of (for example) carbon emissions will be clear and transparent. With blockchain, there’s nowhere to hide your pollution stats. Everything is public, readable, and secure. Ask a manufacturer to submit their carbon emissions, or the source of their components, to the ledger. Are they happy to do so? If not, why not?
Another basic feature of blockchain is distribution. Information is stored across a network of computers rather than a single server, having more backups and maintaining a cheaper cost for storage on an exponential scale.
An impact project-SEA provides people with a means to gather and contribute environmental data on their smartphones, and the technology to analyse that data and pick out critical patterns and meaning.
Finally, there are non-technical aspects which make blockchain applicable to environmentally positive action, too. The biggest of these is the close match between shared responsibility for our planet, and the shared access to distributed data. Earth is ours - it does not belong to Microsoft, or Tesla, or Apple. Similarly, the data created by people, and submitted to the SEA Nexus, belongs to everyone. It lives on blockchain, open to all, free for non-commercial use.