Below is our recent interview with Jessica Shieh, from Energo Labs:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Energo Labs?
A: Energo Labs is dedicated to building what we call Decentralized Autonomous Energy communities, in which renewable energy is traded as a digital asset in peer-to-peer, machine-to-machine, and/or vehicle-to-microgrid/grid transactions.
Utilizing emerging Qtum blockchain technology, our model eliminates the middleman and allows solar panel-equipped communities to locally produce and directly exchange clean energy in a system that provides more freedom and cost-efficiency than a traditional grid.
Overall, we’re focused on creating a secure and dynamic energy solution that is more resilient, equitable, and responsive to diverse community needs.
Q: What are Smart Meters and how do they work?
A: Our Smart Meter design, which we customize in accordance to local standards in various countries, measures the energy production and consumption of individual buildings or households. Smart Meters then send this data to our mobile application, which facilitates energy transactions and shows individual users their energy usage statistics.
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Q: What are the benefits of a decentralized electric power system?
A: Among many other advantages, decentralized energy systems provide significant benefits in terms of energy reliability, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility. Reliability is enhanced because communities gain an added source of clean energy that complements electricity from the main power grid. Solar panel owners can also receive extra income by selling surplus electricity to their neighbors. Additionally, distributed power systems improve energy access (especially in rural and non-grid-connected areas) by providing a consistent and local source of electricity without having to expand the main power grid, which is almost always a prohibitively expensive endeavor.
More importantly, however, a distributed energy system unquestionably empowers both individuals and communities. Decentralized platforms enable the transformation of traditionally passive users into active consumers, giving rise to “prosumers” — consumers who concurrently use and supply energy. Prosumers have the power to choose between different electricity sources based on availability and personal needs, allowing them to assume a more dynamic and well-informed role in their energy consumption decisions. Communities also become more autonomous, given their newfound ability to effectively self-govern local energy resources. On a larger scale, distributed systems deconstruct the unequal power dynamics that currently exist within the energy sector, encouraging community-based action and further advancing the concept of a zero marginal cost society.
…Ultimately, the fundamental principle behind our vision is simple: instead of ownership, we ensure access; instead of markets, we focus on communities.
Q: Why did you choose Qtum Blockchain?
A: We chose to utilize Qtum blockchain technology because we believe that a decentralized energy system requires a similarly decentralized platform. Qtum blockchain provides unparalleled transparency, data security, simplicity of use, efficiency, stability, and ease of scalability, all of which are integral to the frictionless and adaptable distributed energy trading community that we envision.
To go into further detail, various specific benefits came into consideration when we were selecting our blockchain platform. For one, Qtum’s Segregated Witness soft fork allows Qtum to scale far better compared to other platforms. Qtum’s Decentralized Governance Protocol also reduces transaction fees and network congestion without sacrificing a distributed architecture. One of the primary motivations for choosing Qtum was its Proof-of-Stake consensus model and the system’s energy efficiency, which aligns perfectly with our philosophy and vision. Qtum is the first Smart Contract platform to achieve a Proof-of-Stake model, and their underlying blockchain is based on Bitcoin’s proven UTXO model. This proven stability is imperative when launching a project designed to disrupt the energy distribution economy. In addition, Qtum allows us to take advantage of the various Bitcoin Improvement Proposals, such as native multi-signatures and Simple Payment Verification for mobile applications.
Q: What kind of projects and activities has Energo Labs been involved in thus far?
A: Energo recently unveiled our proof-of-concept microgrid project in the Philippines, at De La Salle University – Dasmarinas, where we hosted a public blockchain education workshop as well. We also just finished our international Smart City Hackathon series, which took place in Amsterdam, Singapore, and Shanghai — this series aimed to promote sustainable entrepreneurship and smart urban planning around the world. Furthermore, we established a regional hub in Singapore this past month, which will accelerate our entrance into the Southeast Asian market. Our Singapore hub will provide market research, oversee local outreach and engagement, lead business development, and supervise project management and acquisition, reinforcing Energo’s strategic presence in Southeast Asia.
In addition, we have joined major industry associations (like Power for All and the Alliance for Rural Electrification), contributed to a multitude of conferences and forums around the world in the past year (such as the Digital Asset Investment Forum in Washington D.C. and Money Talks at TU Delft in the Netherlands), and we have received a variety of international awards and recognitions as well (including a spot on the SET Top 100 Energy Transition Innovators list and a $10,000 grant from the UN Environment Programme).
Q: What is on the roadmap for Energo Labs moving forward?
A: Energo will be establishing a global hub in the Netherlands and a regional office in South Korea this year – the Netherlands hub will oversee our projects in Europe, and our Seoul office will manage our Korean activities.
We’re also working to establish a publicly accessible incentive system that encourages a larger network of virtual users to make sustainable and environmentally-friendly decisions in their everyday lives. Enabled by our TSL token, this platform will reward individuals for things like bicycling their daily commute, using less electricity in their homes, and recycling in bulk.
Q: What are Energo’s priorities in terms of wider social impact?
A: Aside from our focus on environmental sustainability, rural electrification, and community empowerment, we also firmly dedicated to diversity and inclusivity in all its forms.
For one, in a heavily male-dominated field and industry, an energy blockchain company with a 27-year-old female COO and 22-year-old female business development manager at its helm is undoubtedly a rare thing. At Energo, we are absolutely cognizant of our unique position as an industry leader in this respect, and as such, we are incredibly committed to leveraging our successes for the tangible empowerment and leadership development of young women in STEM and business.
As an international company, we also prioritize cultural diversity — this is reflected by our own team members, who come from 10 countries including India, Slovenia, Spain, Japan, and Pakistan. Considering that 1.2 billion people around the world still lack reliable access to electricity, we felt that it was important for us to build a team that was appropriately representative, bringing a diversity of global perspectives to the table.
In this way, Energo’s internal diversity serves as a microcosm of our company vision as a whole — though many of us come from vastly different backgrounds, we leverage these differences in our pursuit of a synergistic, universally accessible energy solution.