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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

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.