Centralized control of energy has been implicated in a variety of problems, from unfair electricity problems through blackouts and exclusion of certain geographies and socioeconomic groups from the electric grid.
Thanks to an increasing number of technologies, from solar and wind power to waste repurposing, individuals are gaining the ability to generate their own electricity. Yet, in most cases, communities lack the ability to do load-balancing and energy sharing. Either they have to sell the electricity back to a central authority which fixes the prices, or anything they don’t use personally simply goes to waste.
Furthermore, at times of crisis, communities lack resilience. They may have local energy sources, but they don’t have the means to share with one another if the energy network is fully owned by a central authority.
Distributed energy systems, sometimes referred to as “The Internet of Energy” are poised to transform how people source, trade and share energy. Rather than having to sell energy back to an electric company, regular citizens can sell energy directly to one another, or even just “lend” it to one another. Electrical grids can better balance the supply and demand at the edge, rather than requiring centralized control.
Holochain’s framework is perfectly designed for distributed energy mesh systems, in particular, to create lightweight edge applications that can validate energy production and supply to the network, and provide mutual credit accounting for the energy that is produced. Several hardware and network providers have begun developing proofs of concepts on Holochain, in particular in the area of green and renewable energy.
The advantages that Holochain offers over other types of technology include:
Anti-fragility. As a fully distributed network, Holochain is resilient for remote conditions and for mission-critical situations. During natural disasters, blackouts, or other types of crises, a failure in one part of the network will not have repercussions for the rest of the network.
Extremely low energy use (no energy-associated mining costs). Organizations that want to create energy solutions that are gentler on the planet cannot allow themselves to use proof-of-work blockchains, which demand a high amount of electricity for their consensus algorithms. Holochain uses local validation, which means that it’s more lightweight than traditional centralized computing.
- Local validation
By validating the production, use, sale and purchase of data with the local agent, Holochain provides an extremely robust system that can operate even when parts of the network are disconnected from the rest of the network. Every agent is able to function properly and have verifiable, immutable records of all of its activity, even when the internet connection is unreliable or temporarily unavailable. Communities can also create their own private energy generation and sharing networks.
- Agent control of pricing and data
Holochain respects people’s autonomy and allows each user to keep their own data private. Energy production and use is like any other type of data; it’s a person’s private business, what they use, how much they want to charge to sell back into the grid, what they do with the currency earned from selling the electricity, etc.
- Ground-up approach
dApps (distributed apps) are highly customizable per community, per application and per type of application. It’s simple to create a modular system with interoperability in such a way that applications are customized at the edge but still able to interact as a complete network.
Distributed apps built on Holochain are highly scalable, and the network does not increase in its maintenance complexity as it scales. In fact, as the system grows, it gets faster rather than slower.
In case of catastrophe or isolation, communities can continue to operate independently. Holochain sub-nets continue to operate the same, whether they are connected to the larger database or not.
- Mutual credit currency capabilities
One of Holochain’s first applications is HoloFuel, a mutual credit currency that is designed to represent hosting power on the network. This DNA can be adapted as a basis for mutual credit currencies that represent the capacity of an energy mesh as well.
The benefits for energy are relevant to other IoT applications as well. The first public announcement of using Holochain for energy was from Redgrid last year, and we are seeing an uptick within the community in looking at similar applications. Most of the current projects involve end-user hardware applications, because Holochain apps don’t require much compute power, and can run easily on last-mile equipment, such as Raspberry Pi.
If you’re considering using Holochain for your renewable energy application, we’d love to hear from you. Over the coming months we’ll be building up the resources available for these dApps, so watch this space!