The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is no stranger to the risks of over-centralized energy sources.
Perhaps best known for the nuclear meltdown of its Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011, the largest energy utility in Japan is now looking to blockchain in an effort to prevent another catastrophe.
However, from distributed wind generation using tiny windmills to smart batteries that store power purchased when it's cheap to buy, alternative energy initiatives have historically been individual philanthropic pursuits.
Jeffrey Char, director of TEPCO's venture capital arm, though, believes blockchain can help provide a business model for these innovative ideas and, in the process, lessen Japan's reliance on centralized nuclear power.
Char told CoinDesk:"I was out looking for different technologies that would allow us to scale up operations in a distributed environment, and blockchain technology seemed to be a good fit."
Since creating the venture capital arm in 2015, Char has publicly backed four companies: United Wind in Brooklyn, Via Science in Boston, Moixa in London and, most recently, German-based Conjoule – a joint venture with Innogy and TEPCO aimed at building decentralized energy solutions using blockchains.
And while he's also brought TEPCO into the Energy Web Foundation (designed to explore blockchain for the energy industry), he said the "holy grail" of all these projects is to have individuals create, consume and trade their own energy.
As such, his latest work – a signed memorandum of understanding between TEPCO and Grid+ – is aimed at exploring how blockchains could power peer-to-peer transactions for alternative energy sources.
"What we hope working with Grid+ would enable is that it will give us some early insight into how to deal within those limitations," Char said.On the Grid+
Char's interest in Grid+ began more than six months ago when he offe...