Decentralized identifiers (DIDs) are “digital passports” assigned to prosumers, grid operators, energy suppliers, OEMs, and others—not to mention their DERs, EVs, IoT devices, and other assets. Using DIDs can unlock value either by improving existing processes or by facilitating new ones that are impossible with traditional systems.
DID-based systems improve on traditional systems in several ways:
Customer data is siloed in legacy systems and is not readily available to others (even when desired)
Customers control their own data, which can be shared precisely when and with whom the customer directs
It is not always clear who owns (or should own) customer data; retaining customer data in legacy systems can be a potential liability
Customer always owns her data and decides precisely when and with whom it should be shared
One cannot necessarily trust that a counterparty’s claim about a set of facts is true
One can be certain of the source of the claim, which enables reliance
Updates to data in one system must be made again in other systems
Updates to data need only be made once, because the update is effective across systems
In addition, DIDs can allow for identity federation—allowing a user who is authenticated (often using a single sign-on) to be trusted by multiple systems. Many users already are familiar with this concept because it is common with social networks and other internet-related services. For example, users commonly use their Google or Facebook identities to automatically be identified and trusted by other websites. This means that a user does not need to create separate sign-in credentials to access those other sites. DIDs can be employed to the same effect, but for a range of different types of markets and services in the energy sector.
Customers switching energy suppliers
DIDs can be useful in many energy sector use cases, including EV roaming and DER registration. However, to make the concept concrete, consider how a DID-based system could improve one specific example use case: the process of a customer switching its retail electricity supplier.
In markets where customers may switch suppliers today, one frequent requirement is that the customer may only switch to a new supplier if the customer has paid all its bills from the current supplier.
This presents a problem for a new supplier: it might not be possible to learn a customer’s billing status from the existing supplier, but if the new supplier relies on the customer’s word, and that word turns out to be incorrect, then the new supplier fails to acquire the customer and has wasted significant time.
These delays and transaction costs make customer acquisition more expensive—perhaps prohibitively so.
EWF created a short, interactive DID explainer to show how DIDs can make supplier-switching more efficient.
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