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Photo: Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images

Blockchain has begun to show promise for a wide range of energy applications, from energy trading platforms to carbon production registries to transaction frameworks in emerging markets. Distributed energy resources — including rooftop solar, energy storage and demand response — as well as microgrid systems and back-end business operating environments present other areas of opportunity.

Why it matters: These applications have sparked a boost in investment, estimated at $100 to $300 million since 2014 by the Energy Futures Futures Initiative and as much as $324 million in the last year alone by Greentech Media. As these industry changes accelerate, blockchain will help make energy systems more efficient and profitable.

Blockchain lets firms create a transaction architecture that slashes overhead costs, while at the same time providing more security. Some exponents overpromise that there’s a blockchain solution for every problem, but many blockchain innovations are already up and running:

  • Oil traders have used blockchain to reduce digital trading time from 3 hours to 25 minutes by speeding up verification and fraud detection.
  • In Brooklyn, a microgrid uses a blockchain backbone to automate peer-to-peer transactions between more than 60 energy producers (mostly solar photovoltaic systems) and 800 local consumers.
  • A network of more than 1,200 new electric-vehicle charging stations was built with blockchain.

What’s next: Regulators, investors and policymakers will have to work together on rules that will ensure blockchain applications reach their full potential, helping to exchange more energy more efficiently.

Alex Kizer is director of research at the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI).

Go deeper: EFI’s report on blockchain applications

Go deeper

National Guard chief says it took 3 hours for Pentagon to grant Jan. 6 request

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, will testify Wednesday that it took three hours and 19 minutes for Pentagon leadership to approve a request for National Guard assistance during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, according to his prepared remarks.

Why it matters: The timeline over when National Guard requests were made and granted has been a key point of contention in congressional hearings examining the security failures surrounding the Capitol riots.

35 mins ago - World

International Criminal Court opens Israel-Palestine war crimes probe

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu has strongly objected to the investigation. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday announced her intention to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories since 2014.

Why it matters: The investigation is expected to consider possible war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the 2014 war in Gaza, as well as the construction of West Bank settlements by Israel. It could sharply increase tensions between Israel, which fiercely opposes the probe, and Palestinian leaders, who requested it.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Exxon says it's well-positioned amid investor pressure

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

ExxonMobil said Wednesday that its oil-and-gas development plans will create good returns even at modest oil prices as the company looks to win back investor confidence after several rocky years.

Driving the news: The company, just ahead of an investor presentation this morning, said its investments are designed to generate returns of over 30% and touted its spending reductions.