UK Centrica Gets into Blockchain
The biggest UK residential energy supplier Centrica is trialling blockchain technology, it said May 8. Blockchain technology provides a secure platform for industrial and commercial consumers to buy and sell from each other in a way that the trade history is permanent and unalterable.
Centrica Business boss Mark Hanafin said: “The proliferation of digital technologies is having a significant impact on the energy industry, allowing us to find new and better ways of delivering energy and services to our customers. This is an exciting opportunity for us to test blockchain technology beyond the theoretical and put it into practice, developing innovative new solutions that will empower consumers in the UK, North America and beyond to take control of how they engage with energy.”
Delivered in partnership with energy blockchain company LO3 Energy (LO3), the project will see the roll out of the technology in Centrica’s £19mn ($25.6mn) Local Energy Market programme in an effort to explore how new approaches could disrupt the traditional energy model. The blockchain trial will take this a step further, testing a range of energy transactions including multi-party peer to peer trading across 200 business and residential participants using LO3’s new Exergy platform.
Centrica is also working with LO3 on a trial in North America to deliver the world’s first micro-hedging market for business customers. The trial aims to cut costs and improve efficiency for commercial businesses in Texas through an innovative new business-to-business energy network.
Direct Energy Business will use LO3’s platform to offer large commercial and industrial companies the opportunity to place their own orders for customised power hedges that are then matched with the best offer in a competitive system.
Last year, Centrica Innovations invested into LO3 Energy as part of a £100mn programme to identify, incubate and accelerate new technologies.
Separately Centrica announced May 8 that its chairman Rick Haythornthwaite has told the board he intends to step down within the next 12 months, as he will have served on the board for nearly 6 years at that time. The process of finding his successor will be led by Centrica's senior independent director, Stephen Hester. Haythornthwaite joined the board October 2013 and became chairman January 2014.