Commodifying the intangible and making it available to the private sector is essentially what blockchain technology has promised since 2008. A primary use case, among a froth of many, has been the buying and selling of tokenized energy between non-governmental parties. In Thailand, however, federal energy authorities are taking a stand for intermediaries according to September 6, 2018, reports.
From Finance to Energy: Disrupting Incumbents
The massive push for alternative energy sources, especially solar, is quickly turning from trend to full-blown reality. This shift is all the more true in countries home to both balmy climates and a thriving greentech startup scene. In the crypto haven of Singapore, for instance, the regulatory-friendly initiatives, coupled with pro-private energy companies, has resulted in healthy growth.
Martin Lim of Electrify.Asia, a company offering a blockchain-based energy marketplace, told BTCManager that:
“The regulator [in Singapore]is also fairly progressive with regards to innovation and new business models. For example, they have set up a regulatory sandbox where companies can apply to carry out a demonstration projects with regulatory exemptions.”
Mix in the tokenizing abilities proposed by distributed ledger technology (DLT) and the global reliance on fossil fuels should soon be a thing of the past, right?
Not quite, and pundits can thank the contributions of blockchain technology for this. In vanquishing financial figures from the growing web of a digital economy, bitcoin has stirred a regulatory hornet’s nest of commentators and restrictive bills. In other words, the incumbents being ousted are fighting back. At current, the tides seem to be turning towards a more accommodating relationship, but we’re far from any variety of calm waters.
0/ A few thoughts on @ShapeShift_io‘s decision to start collecting users’ personal information through a mandatory membership program.
In short, this is how regulators silently invade crypto.
— Jake Chervinsky (@jchervinsky) September 5, 2018
Since 2008, many have bootstrapped (for better or for worse) the disintermediating qualities of the Bitcoin network and applied them far outside of the financial sphere. Sectors in the way of logistics, social media platforms, and equity funding have all been prey to disruption. Another target has been the exclusion of government bodies in the energy sector. As such, we’re also beginning to see a similar regulatory resistance to a p2p network of commodified power sources.
Thailand has recently made news for their regulating attempts of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and local exchanges. According to September 6 reports, the government is now looking to slow down the rise of house-to-house microgrid energy trades.
Rising Markets and Innovation
The rise of privatized solar energy panels has allowed for a new market of buyers to participate in green energy projects. Instead of vast acres of land being dedicated to renewable power, homeowners can now have smaller panels installed on their rooftops. Blockchain technology and the commodification of the energy created by said equipment is also empowering startups.
In 2018, homes generated 130 megawatts (MW), and this is estimated to jump another 100 MW by the end of the year. Larger firms, like the state-owned subsidiary BCPG, are looking to help power entire shopping centers and communities with their blockchain-based solar panel network in Bangkok.
A representative of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Viraphol Jirapraditkul, is concerned, however, that as revenues of this growing market move from the public to private, the state utility will lose out despite their critical role.
“The number of household solar rooftop power generators is increasing rapidly. That’s why the ERC needs to develop regulation that is fair for everybody,” he said. Similarly, Lim explained that it’s important that all participants, not just the market makers, are treated justly:
“With regards to charging for maintaining and securing the grid, we believe that all users, whether public or private, should contribute fairly and equitably. Therefore, the tax or charge should apply fairly to both public and private companies. No party should be subsidized by the other.”
The country’s infrastructure is being leveraged for a fast-growing market, while at the same time ousting the very folks who are maintaining and securing the grid. Ultimately, keeping everyone involved is tricky, and the Commission is hoping to buy just a bit more time to figure out how to keep things running smoothly.