How Blockchain is Making Waves in the Energy Sector 0 144

It may be in its infancy, but blockchain technology is already threatening to disrupt every industry there is. One area where its capabilities are being felt right now is the energy sector. Since the start of this year alone, ICOs have been springing up to tackle world problems almost daily. Moreover, over 200 business models have been identified that could benefit from blockchain technology in this segment.

With the sheer number of pressing issues that face our society today, in the form of climate change, water scarcity, crop failure, and world poverty; the blockchain can be put to some very good use indeed. Let’s take a look at how this technology is having an impact on the energy sector:

Peer to Peer Energy Trading

Many people are alarmed by the thought of climate change. But rising sea levels and poor air quality won’t necessarily motivate them into action. A far better incentive is by showing them the impact on their wallets. How do you get people to install solar panels on their roofs, for example? By paying them back in energy credits and cheaper electricity bills.

And now they have another incentive as well. They can be rewarded for the energy that they don’t consume by trading it directly with their peers on the blockchain. Energy generation is fast becoming decentralized, allowing small and individual producers with rooftop solar units to access the energy market and sell their surplus.

ICOs like Electron in the UK aim to capitalize on the opportunities that this decentralization brings, by allowing consumers to manage their own energy and cut out the middlemen. They can trade their energy credits on a secure and robust platform, when and how much they want to.

Carbon Credits

To tackle the climate crisis head on, many startups are using the blockchain as a fast, efficient, and transparent way for businesses to trade carbon credits. If the thought of saving the planet wasn’t reward enough, many ICOs provide added rewards programs for businesses and individuals who make conscious decisions to reduce their carbon footprints.

CarbonX is one such ICO that allows enterprise companies to easily provide their customers with the sustainable business practices they seek. Using the blockchain to recast carbon offsets, all transactions are transparent and immutable. This means that consumers can really see that when a company claims to be environmentally friendly, it is.

The CarbonX platform assesses the carbon impact of a company’s products and services and balances it with offsets. It then certifies carbon neutral products so that consumers can be confident in their sustainable purchasing choices.

Financing Renewable Energy

Like Kickstarter for renewable energy projects, many a blockchain startup is appearing on the scene allowing great ideas to get the funding they need to start. ASTRN Energy, for example, uses the blockchain to crowdfund and gives investors a stake in the future profits of the energy plant or program.

By enabling crowdfunding and co-investing in renewable energy projects, such as wind generators, solar farms, hydro-dams, and other types of clean energy sources, companies like ASTRN allow us to collaborate to work towards a cleaner, greener future.

With blockchain frequently labeled as the most disruptive tech in decades, perhaps this is the weapon we can finally use in the fight against climate change and finite energy sources. If blockchain can hold companies and suppliers accountable, incentivize individuals and enterprise alike to reduce their carbon footprints, and turn energy into a tradable commodity, perhaps there is hope for generations to come after all.

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Christina is a technology and business communicator who has worked with high profile ICOs and blockchain influencers to break industry news.

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Kenya Looks to Blockchain for Affordable Housing Project 1 142

The “Silicon Savannah” is moving deeper in direction of tech. The Kenyan government has announced a plan to manage the property allocation and funding of 500,000 affordable housing units with blockchain technology.

The units, which the government aims to build by 2022, will be set aside for households with an annual income below 100,000 Kenyan Shillings, about $990 USD. The World Bank estimates Kenya’s gross national income per capita at $1,290, according to Business Daily.

Blockchain will help ensure that the affordable housing is in fact going to those who fall below the average income bracket. Land title fraud has caused problems for Kenyans, as land grabbers target homes and even schools for illegal sales and development. Blockchain’s ability to store verifiable proof of title could help safeguard against fraudsters.

“Kenya will use blockchain technology to ensure the rightful owners live in government funded housing projects,” said Principal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Charles Hinga, speaking with the World Bank on Monday.

Hinga said the plan will be financed by the National Housing Fund, which will raise over $59.5 million per month to get the project underway. But Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development James Macharia said it will take $31.7 billion to build a million homes, each of which will cost between $3,000 and $30,000. Macharia called for support from private sector financing.

Under the financing plan, working Kenyans will contribute 1.5 percent of their salary, which will be matched by their employers. “On affordable housing one should not spend more than 30% of their disposable income for housing,” Hinga tweeted yesterday. “Anything above 30% is not affordable.”

A Trustless Relationship Between People and Government

The initiative represents a considerable push to solve housing and title problems for the nation’s lower income families. But how will the government decide to whom the housing units will go? With so much talk about financing underway, people are already calling on the government to outline a plan for how they’ll distribute the affordable housing units.

The government will need to deliver the housing projects in a time when, Hinga acknowledges, the public is skeptical. Earlier this year $78 million went missing in a corruption scandal involving the National Youth Services. Where there is little trust between the people and their government, Kenya hopes to establish transparency through the blockchain’s distributed ledger system.

Kenya’s Move Toward Tech

In March, Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology appointed a blockchain taskforce to explore the ways the nation could use blockchain technology in the public and private sectors. They called it the Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence taskforce, and by September its chairman, Bitange Ndemo, was calling on the government to tokenize the economy.

Ndemo also proposed government implementation of blockchain to certify the authenticity of retail goods, so consumers can be sure of where their food is coming from, for example.

Governor of Kenya’s central bank Patrick Njoroge has also voiced support for the use of blockchain technology to strengthen service delivery, although he’s opposed the use of tokens and digital currencies.

But the affordable housing initiative could be the Kenyan government’s first real world implementation of the blockchain.

Real Estate Doesn’t Need to Be So Complicated 1 383

Because blockchain is basically data management, one industry it stands to improve a great deal is real estate. The process of buying and selling real estate is first and foremost a data transfer. There were $463.9 billion in large cap commercial real estate investments nationwide in 2017. All that money moves paper. Since land cannot actually be owned, the idea of land ownership must be exhaustively documented, organized, purchased and sold. The myriad processes that make up one transaction, namely title transfers, putting funds through escrow, and navigating an outdated MLS system, all stand to benefit from a technology upgrade.

Blockchain could quicken and simplify these processes by virtue of its transparent, untamperable and near instantaneous handling of data. “What if you could irrefutably determine who previously owned a property, record with absolute certainty who the new owner is after it sells and reference the blockchain at any time to verify all previous owners?” asks Mark Rutzen, Co-founder and CEO of Eondo Inc.  “Even the combination or splitting of parcels would be easy to record with blockchain technology,” he adds.

Moving into the future of real estate, particularly commercial real estate and investment, will soon mean embracing the block. Here are some of the ways blockchain is changing real estate.

Financing Developers and Investors

For anyone in real estate investment or development, the most glaring obstacle is getting the upfront capital when you find a good opportunity.

“Real estate investors and developers are turning to new technologies like blockchain smart contracts to find more liquidity at lower costs,” says Joseph Snyder, CEO at Lannister Holdings, an Arizona-based technology company working to create more blockchain lending and crowdfunding tools through their Lannister Development subsidiary.

Lannister is publicly traded and regulated by the SEC, which is uncommon for a blockchain company. But Snyder sees it as an inevitability in the long term. He anticipates a future where blockchain real estate regulation is the norm, and blockchain development like Lannister’s is part of mainstream business development and commerce.

“We wanted to be heavily regulated up front,” he says. “We believe regulation and financial compliance are coming down the pipe.” And, according to their website, they “see a future of security, transparency, and growth beyond the stale oligarchy of traditionalists.”

Systems like this give access to capital to smaller investors and developers who don’t have a lot of capital to work with up front. In theory, this could level the playing field.

Real Estate Professionals Worldwide Are Developing a Blockchain Future

Others are envisioning a near future where you could buy a house with a click on a shopping cart icon. If blockchain can clean up the real estate process enough, it could do more than just disrupt the industry. It could give it a total overhaul.

The P2P nature of blockchain enables faster sales and a higher volume of deals closed with fewer legal headaches and administrative fees. It also means a trustless economy and immediate processing of property values and other technical details, like zoning regulations or utility expenses.

Organizations like the International Blockchain Real Estate Association, or IBREA, are dedicated to incubating the many possibilities produced by the intersection of real estate and blockchain. Local chapters of IBREA hold meetups in 23 cities for its 5,000 members to come together as professionals and co-educators, with the goal of moving the real estate world into the blockchain age.

According to Ragnar Lifthrasir, founder of IBREA, “real estate technology is going more peer to peer.”

“I think what people are missing with blockchain and real estate is the data problem,” he adds. “We have so much data in real estate. So to really do blockchain real estate well you also have to have a good data system, which is distributed file storage, or IPFS.”

Real Estate Without Headaches

With some real world testing to work out the bugs, blockchain real estate could take us into a future where we can buy and sell property as easily as we do a cup of coffee. With data properly arranged and the transactions secure and transparent, there will be no need for the systems currently governing the industry—nor the room for error, delays and complications they open up at every step.

For anyone with aspirations in real estate development or investment, blockchain promises to open a lot of doors.

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