Interview by Anders Lorenzen
Part two – what Power Ledger means for renewables
If you missed part here, read it here.
In part one of our interview with Power Ledger’s Managing Director Dave Martin, we heard about the motives and processes behind the initiative. In part two we will hear more about what Power ledger means for renewables.
Anders Lorenzen: How will blockchain projects like Power Ledger reform the energy industry and what will it mean for renewables?
Dave Martin: Introducing peer-to-peer trading not only puts the customers needs first, it improves the economics of renewable generation by providing low-cost and low-carbon electricity. Part of our job is to educate utilities to the point that they realise this isn’t an extinction event, it’s a necessary evolution of their business model. We’re improving the energy system and, in the long run, their businesses.
The traditional energy industry is curious about blockchain and we’ve had no shortage of demand from utilities. There’s a change currently underway in the energy industry, more renewables and grid defection. Network operators need to find a way to keep people from defecting from the grid and retailers need to find ways of connecting with their customers, so we’re helping them achieve that.
In addition to reducing transaction costs, the Power Ledger platform ensures that the existing energy system is optimally used, with minimal wastage.
It’s important for us to communicate the realities of the technology and implement it on a commercial level rather than just proof of concept. Our projects with Tech Mahindra in India, BCPG in Thailand and the White Gum Valley and Smart Cities projects in Fremantle are all real-world examples that demonstrate the variety of ways the platform can be implemented and the impact it can have on the energy industry as a whole.
AL: Have you met your expectations or even exceeded them?
DM: The ICO met and exceeded everyone’s expectations, but the ICO success isn’t a measure of our overall success as a company. We’re at the ten-yard line on the football field. We’ve come so far, experienced enormous growth and developed one of the best communities there is in the space. But our mission is to democratise energy — so we have a long way to go to complete our goals.
Jemma (Dr Jemma Green, founder of Power Ledger) stated in her speech at the Extreme Tech Challenge in Las Vegas (which we’re finalists in), that we want to be operating in 12 countries and be trading hundreds of megawatt hours this year alone. Talk to us again in December!
AL: What are your expectations for 2018?
DM: We’re expecting more exciting partnerships, a growing team of passionate individuals and community excitement and engagement with our Asset Germination Events and further implementation of our platform.
Our focus for 2018 is our Asset Germination Events (AGE) and outreach from the community around wanting to participate in the funding, development and ownership of community-scale energy generation.
Someone could buy 1% of a solar farm and then get 1% of the income the asset generates with the blockchain being the asset and transaction register. AGE’s present enormous potential for developing countries and also countries impacted by natural disasters to assist in rebuilding assets. We’re currently working on the financial, legal and commercial frameworks and will have more details for the community later this year.
Another thing we’re working on is our electric vehicle charging platform. In Australia first, the White Gum Valley development in Fremantle, Western Australia, will use the Power Ledger Platform for electric vehicle payment settlement using real-time metering data, the collection of data, and user identification.
The benefit of this service is the delivery of a more efficient and user-friendly electric vehicle charging experience as well as a greater range of options for consumers, energy retailers and charging station managers.
AL: Can you explain your first asset germination event? And will they mean that token holders will be able to become co-owners and beneficiaries of renewable assets, and how that could work?
DM: We’re still finalising the details of our AGE, but essentially, it is the process by which individuals can invest in renewable energy assets, such as solar farms, microgrids or batteries. As interest in renewable energy increases, individuals who cannot afford to purchase this sort of infrastructure themselves can use asset germination events to purchase a stake using their POWR tokens instead. In this way, they can also benefit from revenue that is generated when the energy produced is traded.
The Power Ledger platform is the perfect solution for such events because of the immutable nature of records on the blockchain, where ownership is securely recorded with any related transactional information too.
AL: What do you expect to happen to the POWR price in the short term?
DM: What’s generally happening in the market can impact the POWR price — and we’re seeing that now with Bitcoin and Ether. In saying that, we try to avoid speculation around the POWR token price — and keep our community to the same standards. We have rules in our community that stop any speculation around price, activities or projects. We’ve got bots in those Telegram groups that remind every participant when they’re starting to verge into that space of price speculation, that that’s not what that group is for. We avoid speculation around price because that can add to the volatility.
What I can tell you, is that we have lots of exciting developments in the pipeline and while not all of it is ready to announce yet, the ever-growing team is incredibly focused on the important work in front of us.
AL: Do you see any risks associated with launching as a cryptocurrency?
DM: There’s certainly risks associated with launching as a cryptocurrency, but we’ve done our best to protect ourselves. We function in the energy market via Sparkz (tokenised electricity), which means first and foremost we’re an energy company, not a crypto company. Because of that, we have good relationships with international banks. We’ve gone to huge lengths to protect ourselves from the volatility of the crypto market, and we’re actively working to show people we’re a legitimate business.
It wouldn’t make sense for Power Ledger to do an ICO and then go and position it somewhere in the Bahamas, where there’s all those cloaks and mirrors around your tax exposure, and your commercial obligations, and all those sort of things, like most ICOs, up until recently, have done.
So we did everything with all the terms and disclosures, as close as we could to an IPO (Initial Public Offering), to give comfort to the market, that we’re all above board. We ran it through our corporate models, through our proprietary limited business. We have a tax exposure, and we did all of those things, because, we realise we need to bring some legitimacy to our space, the ICO and crypto space and more generally. Because ours is a very mundane commodity that we’re trying to provide, so we need the legitimacy that comes with that.
Dave Martin was speaking to the Editor of A greener life, a greener world, Anders Lorenzen.