Itron was among a number of companies highlighting blockchain technology and applications at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019. A blockchain-based electric vehicle (EV) charging demo was one of several Itron Idea Labs projects highlighted at last week’s massive show, held annually in Las Vegas. The dynamic Itron demo showcased how solar, EV charging and grid-sourced energy flows can be tracked and recorded in real time at the grid edge using a distributed ledger. Itron edge devices validated energy flows and communicated via a wide area network (WAN) to distributed ledger nodes, the cloud and mobile devices. The entire energy grid ecosystem — utilities, regulators, distributed renewable energy sources (DRSOs), industrial customers, consumers and other stakeholders — will benefit from the Itron platform by having access to timely, transparent, immutable and trusted data.

Bringing blockchain center stage, the winner of the CES 2019 Innovation Award in the smart cities category was ZOME Energy Network’s ZOMEKit. A multi-dwelling unit (MDU) conversion solution, ZOMEKit, which includes integrated blockchain support, transforms older buildings into energy-efficient smart buildings. Of the 4,500 exhibitors at CES 2019, roughly three dozen companies — both startups and multinationals — presented blockchain solutions, including Devvio, Engie, Gluon Solutions, IBM, IoTex, NeuroChain, TransChain and Trillium.

In addition, during a CES panel discussion, the City of Las Vegas announced that it would “flirt” with blockchain-powered mobility, smart lighting and environmental solutions this year.

While a potential game-changer, blockchain is still in its infancy. Owing to stability, complexity, scalability, confidentiality, speed of execution, energy consumption, economic, and standards and regulatory questions, it will likely be three to five years before blockchain moves from its current “flirting” stage to courtship and beyond.

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James Edson
Jim Edson has served as Entrepreneur in Residence in Itron's Idea Labs since early 2017. He has held senior operations, business development and management positions at Motorola, Qualcomm, Ericsson, ARM and several early-stage technology companies. Jim’s focus within Itron Idea Labs is on smart cities and collaborating with clean tech incubators and accelerators to identify promising new solutions and startups.