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Assets are onboarding to grid operator systems around the globe

Bringing Self-sovereign Digital Identity to the Energy System

With customer investment in grid-edge assets outpacing utilities’ investment in centralized grid infrastructure, and with billions of distributed energy resources (DERs) connecting to power grids around the world, we need to rethink how electricity systems operate. Here at Energy Web, our tech stack is enabling grid operators to digitize and integrate a diversity of utility- and customer-owned resources into enterprise information and operating technology systems.
Ioannis Vlachos, PhD
Asset Management Lead, Energy Web
Ioannis Vlachos
Last year saw major energy markets on both sides of the Atlantic take decisive steps toward integrating assets like DERs more holistically.

In July, the European Commission released details of its clean energy strategic priority, including making it easier for customers to interact with the energy market as well as supporting digital energy services, including smart meters for homes and smart chargers for electric vehicles. Two months later in September, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the United States issued FERC Order 2222, which unlocks the game-changing ability for DERs to participate in wholesale electric markets on a level playing field with traditional energy assets.

“Our goal at Energy Web is to bring every ISO and RTO in the U.S. onto the EW-DOS stack in order to fully unlock the potential of DERs and accelerate the energy transition,” wrote Jesse Morris, CCO, Energy Web.

Meanwhile, Energy Web was already forging ahead with strategic partnerships with grid operators in Europe and beyond.

JANUARY 2020

Austrian Power Grid Taps DERs for Frequency Regulation Using EW Flex
As Austria’s transmission system operator, APG is responsible for the real-time balancing of power generation and consumption to maintain a stable frequency within the Austrian grid at any time. However, a growing trend toward more and more decentralized renewable generation (e.g., residential solar) and smart consumption (e.g., smart thermostats, batteries) opens up new possibilities to utilize DERs for grid balancing. That’s why APG launched is Flex-Hub concept, built on the Energy Web tech stack, including the EW Flex family of SDKs. It offers an efficient, low-cost way to pre-qualify DERs for the market, to manage their participation in grid balancing processes, and to facilitate financial settlement for the grid services they ultimately provide. APG expects that most of the roughly 1 million households in Austria will ultimately participate in the flexibility market.
“We believe that fulfilling Austria’s goal of 100% renewable electricity until 2030 is achievable — if everyone at the table is committed to do what it takes. A huge piece of the puzzle will be the coordinated and standardized utilization of distributed flexibility potentials to efficiently integrate renewables into the electricity market. For this purpose, we need to develop the technical concepts for a ‘Flex-Hub,’ which can make these potentials accessible for all market participants, while respecting the constraints of the grid on all levels.” 

—Gerhard Christiner, CTO, APG
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SEPTEMBER 2020

Multi-Year Strategic Partnership with Elia Group
Longtime Energy Web member and EW Chain validator node host Elia Group—through its subsidiaries Elia (Belgium) and 50Hertz (Germany)—is responsible for managing and operating the transmission grid infrastructure, ensuring a reliable electricity supply for over 30 million customers. In September we announced a multi-year strategic partnership that would support Elia on multiple fronts, including understanding the potential of decentralized identifiers (DIDs) to overcome the challenges of market and software silos for integrating the electricity and mobility sectors and to help streamline asset registry management for distributed energy resources (DERs), which will make up a bigger and bigger portion of Europe’s power grid. We’re also providing technical expertise and support for Elia Group’s new DLT Lab, which sits within Elia’s innovation arm. At the end of 2020, Elia unveiled a fascinating look at their work on market integration of electric vehicles using blockchain technology, which makes extensive use of the Energy Web tech stack.
“A consumer-centric system is a desired outcome of the energy transition. It is our societal duty to work with all market parties in order to operate the system with lowest costs and to put in place the building blocks that will bring the benefits of the energy transition to the consumer. The development of capabilities in DLT or other digital technologies will allow all participants to manage the complexities of decentralized flexibility while delivering more value and comfort for consumers.” 

—Kai Schmied, Elia Group Innovation Manager
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OCTOBER 2020

DENA Selects Energy Web to Build Prototype Identity Registry for Germany’s Energy Market
Germany’s federal energy agency, Deutsche Energie-Agentur (DENA), selected Energy Web to design and construct a digital registry for distributed energy resources (DERs) across the country in partnership with more than 20 industry players. The project will enable energy assets in Germany, such as thermostats, solar PV systems, batteries, and electric vehicle charging stations to undertake automatic registration with a decentralized ledger of identities, allowing their utilisation by the German grid for a range of services such as virtual power plants and frequency regulation.
“Digital identities are very important to ensure that the automatic exchange of information from millions of producers, storage systems, and consumers is secure and reliable. One promising solution is an identity ledger that is being tested on blockchain technology. It could provide great insight into constructing a digital market design.”

—Philipp Richard, Energy Systems and Digitization Lead, DENA
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Identity and Access Management for Users, Assets, and App Developers in a Self-sovereign Era

In December, we unveiled EW Switchboard, a first-of-its-kind identity and access management (IAM) tool for users, assets, and application developers in today’s growing self-sovereign approach to digital solutions. Although we developed Switchboard with a focus on the global energy sector and the Energy Web Chain, Switchboard can be used in any sector and on any blockchain-based or non-blockchain digital solution.

“This is a major landmark, not just for Energy Web’s ecosystem but for the future of open-source, decentralized technology. Universal self-sovereign identity is at the core of tomorrow’s digital solutions, from tracing an energy asset or megawatt-hour of renewable generation throughout its entire lifecycle to managing energy market and application access for enterprise users.” 
—Micha Roon, CTO, Energy Web

To date, IAM solutions have been centralized, fragmented, and siloed. This presents challenges with respect to data privacy and security, lack of interoperability across systems, concerns about data persistence and censorship, and bloated administrative and compliance costs. Consumer-focused solutions such as Google or Facebook single sign-on and enterprise-focused solutions such as Google OAuth or Azure Active Directory have attempted to address some of these challenges. But a decentralized self-sovereign identity (SSI) approach offers a superior experience.

“In the 20th century, an analog switchboard allowed an operator to plug and unplug various inputs and outputs, interconnecting a variety of users and endpoints. EW Switchboard is the modern, 21st century equivalent. We’ve replaced the operator with a decentralized system of autonomous self-sovereign identities, interconnecting various users, assets, and applications.”
—Mani Hagh Sefat, Utility Layer Lead, Energy Web

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read up on "How Switchboard Tackles the Challenge of Enterprise Identity Management" and "Digging Deeper into Self-sovereign Identity and Access Management."