Blockchain Patent For Crypto-Powered Electrical Grid Awarded To Walmart

News | June 15, 2018 By:

Retail giant Walmart has won a patent for an electrical grid that will be powered by bitcoin or other digital currency.

The patent, which was awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) earlier this week, is for a system designed to help companies better manage energy consumption and regulate demand on an electrical grid using blockchain or another type of distributed ledger.

According to the patent, residential homes and large organizations could use blockchain to create a chain of energy-consuming devices. Each device in the chain could be assigned a set amount of bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. The device can then use the stipulated amount of cryptocurrency to purchase energy from the utility provider over a set billing period, such as one month.

“Each unit cryptocurrency may represent a unit or a portion of a unit of energy,” the patent said. “For example, if 1 cryptocurrency unit is set to be equivalent to 1 kWh, the provider interface module 131 may receive a capped total amount of cryptocurrency of 800 for a month to spend on purchasing 800 kWh of electricity. Various conversion rates may be used between a unit of cryptocurrency and a unit of energy, as well as the total capped amount of cryptocurrency. The transfer of the capped amount of cryptocurrency may be between the energy provider system 112 associated with the energy provider 6 (or energy producer 5 if the energy provider is the same as the manufacturer) and the energy metering device 120.”

The patent explains that energy providers currently deliver energy to locations that inefficiently use the energy, which leads to increased energy costs for consumers. The increased costs result from various appliances and devices that consume energy at higher levels than the appliance or device may actually need to function or perform certain tasks. Smart appliances and devices are now available to consumers that can operate more energy efficiently, but still consume more energy than needed or economically practical.

The patent states that the blockchain system will indicate which device is consuming an unnecessary amount of electricity, and will distribute with other devices. The system can also be programmed to sell the excess cryptocurrency or hold it for the next billing.

The retail giant is not the first company to design a blockchain system to manage the efficiency of an electrical grid. Australian energy startup Power Ledger developed a blockchain platform that enables the sale of surplus renewable energy generated at residential and commercial developments (including multi-unit/multi-tenanted) connected to existing electricity distribution networks, or within micro-grids.