The research project InDEED (FKZ: 03EI6026A) started on 01.04.2020 and will run until September 2023. Together with the two research partners, the University of Bayreuth and the Stiftung Umweltenergierecht and 12 partners from the energy industry the FfE is pursuing the project goal of both practically implementing and scientifically evaluating the concept of a distributed data platform for energy industry use cases.
Blockchain technology is to be used for the distributed database structure due to its mechanisms for ensuring resistance to manipulation. In this way, platforms can be realized that are equally accessible to all players, which means that data-based value creation is not left to individual players with a dominant market position. The project focuses primarily on analyses of potentials, system repercussions, changed value creation structures and scalability.
Project content and structure
The project focuses on the two fields of application “Labeling of Energy Flows” and “Asset Logging”, which were identified in the previous FfE project B10X. For this purpose, plants and end consumers in the real environment are connected to a platform to be developed in cooperation with the project partners and the results are evaluated in scientific analyses. Through practical implementation, experience, data and results can be generated with as many heterogeneous participants, technologies and use cases as possible.
In the project, the term “Asset Logging” describes the collection of operating, maintenance and servicing data from (energy industry) plants by means of measuring systems, testing bodies or other appropriate sources. The tamper-proof and time-discrete storage and processing of the recorded data of individual assets enables a variety of use cases. The term “Labeling” covers the unambiguous, transparent and tamper-proof digital mapping of feed-in, withdrawal and storage, as well as their temporal and spatial linkage, taking into account physical boundary conditions. Possible use cases for the two fields of application are shown as examples in the following diagram.
The project focuses on the development of methods and models aimed at answering among others the following selected research questions:
- Which use cases from the application fields “labeling” and “asset logging” can be realized on the platform?
- How can the theoretical, technical, economic and practical potential of the use cases in Germany be assessed?
- What are the requirements of the energy industry for an energy data platform based on blockchain technology?
- How can the theoretical, technical, economic and practical potential of the use cases in Germany be assessed?
- In what ways will digital platforms change value creation in the energy industry?
- Which practical hurdles hamper an implementation? What action recommendations can be derived from this?
- What are the requirements and challenges for the programming implementation and scalability of the platform? (worked on by the University of Bayreuth)
- How can the platform be scaled? (worked on by the University of Bayreuth)
- What is the legal framework for platform-based applications in the energy sector and which possible obstacles as well as potential courses of action can be identified for the considered use The Application Field: Asset Logging
The Application Field of Asset Logging
The increasing number of decentralized assets presents challenges for various stakeholders in the energy industry. While smart meters may be able to record asset data in a tamper-resistant manner in the future, currently there are no practical technical solutions for ensuring tamper resistance after the data has been recorded. However, such solutions are crucial for maintaining data integrity throughout the entire process chain, including data processing, storage, and repeated use. This assurance of data integrity, coupled with automation, is necessary in use cases of the asset logging field.
This project conducted a comprehensive use case process involving relevant stakeholders from industry and practice to identify relevant use cases. Based on preliminary work in the field of asset logging, a broad range of use cases were discussed, evaluated, and prioritized. A total of 12 asset logging use cases relevant to the energy industry were identified. Some of these use cases are already in practice today, yet they rely on complex and often inefficient processes based on trust in individual instances. Thus, there is significant potential for improvement and complexity reduction. Furthermore, some of these use cases can only be implemented with a technical solution that guarantees data integrity.
The successful implementation of all use cases within the asset logging application field requires three fundamental requirements:
- Resistance to manipulation throughout the entire process chain, from data acquisition and storage to data processing.
- Transparency regarding the data’s origin and the time of recording.
- Data sovereignty and security for the owners/operators of the corresponding assets.
The project further developed two specific use cases: “Verification of balancing services” and “Warranty management.” For the former, a verification concept was devised to verify the provision of balancing services. The latter, “Warranty management,” was examined in a field test.
Asset logging in practice: Practical testing of the data platform
In order to meet the requirements of manipulation resistance, transparency, and data sovereignty, the InDEED project developed a data platform for verifying asset data. The data is recorded at the asset and then aggregated into hash values using Merkle Trees, which are transferred to a blockchain. This approach allows for tamper-resistant mapping of large amounts of data at relatively little effort, without directly disclosing the data. The concept was implemented as a proof-of-concept in a field test. The platform was developed by the University of Bayreuth and demonstrated in two applications. On the one hand, the use cases warranty management and insurance policies were tested together with liqwotec GmbH. In addition, the application of asset logging in the field of electromobility was implemented using data from bidirectional charging processes from the BDL project (bidirectional charging management).
The application area of asset logging, as well as the use cases we identified in the project, are explained in more detail in our series of articles, as well as in our paper. Our white paper provides a complete overview of the project’s activities in the area of asset logging, including the technical implementation concept, the field tests, and a legal assessment.
While asset logging allows for ex-post verification of data in a specific verification case, the solution concept developed for this purpose cannot cover use cases that require constant data verification or involve checking large volumes of data. Furthermore, the solution concept still requires the disclosure of certain data in verification cases, making it unsuitable for sensitive data that cannot be disclosed even for verification cases. One example is the labeling of electricity, for which a different solution concept was developed as part of the project.
The Application Field of Labeling
The necessary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the context of climate protection represents one of the largest transformation processes for the economy and society in the coming decades. A key component of this transformation process is the knowledge about the origin of electricity and the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, electricity labeling is becoming increasingly important for both households and businesses.
Currently, in Germany, Guarantees of Origin (GOs) are used for electricity labeling. The GO system in Germany is based on the requirements of German and European regulations, as well as the specific implementation in the form of the GO register.
GOs serve as the basis for numerous applications, including green electricity tariffs, the classification of green hydrogen, and the determination of greenhouse gas emissions by companies. In the future, labeling energy quantities will also play a significant role for energy communities and local energy markets.
To meet the requirements of these different applications, a revision of the current system is necessary. In the InDEED project, we identified and analyzed the growing challenges to the GO system in an evolving and increasingly renewable energy system. Based on our analysis, we identified various steps in a roadmap for the further development of the German GO register.
The roadmap is based on the availability of technologies, focusing mainly on digitization and automation. The paper demonstrates that various steps are possible and necessary to revise the GO register and the entire system (including regulatory foundations). This includes the creation of digital interfaces and process improvements, the use of smart meters, increased temporal resolution, reduced certificate size, simplified coupling of generation and consumption, easier participation for small-scale installations, integration of storage, and connection to GO systems for hydrogen and heat. The individual steps are illustrated in Figure 2.
In the InDEED project, we developed a data platform which aims to enable the straightforward disclosure of the origin of electricity from small-scale installations to end consumers. The solution was developed by the FfE in collaboration with the University of Bayreuth. It demonstrates what can be achieved with intelligent end-to-end digitization, opening completely new possibilities for interaction and paving the way for new business models and products beyond electricity labeling. Figure 3 provides an overview of the design, advantages, and applications of the InDEED labeling solution.
Labeling in Practice: Conducting a FieldTest
As part of the project, a distributed energy data platform has been developed in collaboration with other research partners. This platform enables high-resolution, transparent, and tamper-resistant allocation of energy generation and consumption. To demonstrate that the platform can make a real contribution to the energy transition, a practical implementation is currently being tested. In this process, the generation and consumption of various renewable power plants, consumers, and prosumers are registered and allocated to each other. The underlying allocation method has already been published in this paper . The implementation for the pilot test is freely accessible and can be viewed on GitLab.
You can get a firsthand experience of the field test on this website. In addition to detailed information, you will see interactive visualizations that demonstrate how labeling works on a platform in practice.
The InDEED project relies on a transdisciplinary research approach from the energy industry, information technology, and law and regulation. The consortium consists of research partners with different focal points (FfE, University of Bayreuth and Stiftung Umweltenergierecht). Furthermore, associated partners with different competencies and focal points along the entire energy industry value chain are involved in the project and support the project through financial contributions, expert knowledge and in the implementation in the field.