Energy firms eyeing ‘tokenisation’ models, says Energi Mine CEO

Omar Rahim: The revolution will be tokenised

Energi Mine, the energy consultancy developing a blockchain-based energy efficiency rewards platform, says it is in discussions with half a dozen energy companies about ‘tokenising’ parts of the energy chain.

CEO Omar Rahim said most of those discussions revolve around “energy and carbon trading”, though he believes that ultimately, “everything will be tokenised”.

In simple terms, ‘tokenising’ means taking real world assets, or the rights to them, and putting them onto a blockchain. The asset owner gets a token in return. They can trade or redeem that token, making it a digital currency.

(See this article for an explanation of how blockchains work)

Energi Mine sold $15m (£10.6m) of tokens in its initial fundraising round earlier this year. Rahim said the lion’s share of the money would be spent on platform development and striking global partnerships. A beta version is due for release this month with a full release of the first version set for “June or July”.

Rahim said the firm’s ultimate aim is to reduce global energy demand by incentivising behaviour change. Its initial model is to target I&C firms and local authorities to trial its platform to see if they can achieve energy reduction targets by rewarding staff.

“For example, a factory spending £10m a year on energy might set a reward on a target to save 10% via behaviour change, which is what the token incentivises.”

Rahim said perhaps half of the savings could then be offered to staff, who can redeem tokens for goods, services, or cash.

“Our aim to reduce global energy demand. It doesn’t matter whether users share that goal, they might just care about financial side,” said Rahim. “But the result is the same; they reduce their energy footprint.”

While incentivising behaviour change is not a new idea, Rahim believes a blockchain platform solves issues of trust and thinks it can therefore deliver sustained impact.

“Factory employees may be skeptical that savings will be passed on. But smart contracts mean you don’t have to trust the line manager. Everything is linked into meters and tokens are deployed automatically when triggers are hit, so there is no gaming of the system,” he said.

“Yes, there are other technologies. But attempts to reward behaviour change have previously failed due to issues of verification and trust. Blockchain is the only technology that can do both,” he suggested.

The company has launched a trial with Network Rail and Rahim said Energi Mine will announce further trials ”with global corporates in the coming weeks”.

It is looking for more firms and local authorities to trial the platform and says all trials will be “fully funded”.

‘Everything will be tokenised’

While there is much hype around blockchain, regulators around the world have lately voiced concern about initial coin offerings or token sales. But Rahim believes that “in the future, everything will be tokenised”.

“The concept of ownership is dying,” he said. “Blockchain has the potential to change the economic system in a way that we have never seen before. With the connected world, change, tokenisation, will happen a lot quicker than people think – and the energy market is no different from that.”

While few firms are talking publicly about tokenising energy assets, Rahim believes they soon will.

“It is inevitable. It is a fantastic way to fund projects.”

Related stories:

Blockchain: Energi Mine raises £10.6m

Blockchain – not the definitive article

Japan’s biggest utility invests in UK blockchain firm Electron

Can blockchain unlock demand-side response?

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