Honda, GM-Led Group Develops Global Blockchain Standard for EV Grid Integration
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By Thomas Gresham
- “A global standard on blockchain for electric vehicle grid integration (EVGI) can lay the foundation for a worldwide decentralized vehicle charging network, according to the international working group developing what it says is the first such standard.
- Rapidly maturing technology offers the promise of a more efficient utilization of the billions of dollars in new capital investment of electric vehicle infrastructure, according to Tram Vo, chief operating officer of the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI). The standard, crafted by a working group led by Honda and General Motors (GM), aims to help those dollars go toward building scalable, user-centric energy communities.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Jessika Trancik said the standard’s impact will depend on the widespread development of strategies designed to match local markets and conditions and to benefit “entire communities and not just the wealthy few.””
The standard includes technical design specifications that cover the system designs and data schemas for three core use case areas that would use blockchain in a decentralized ecosystem:
- Vehicle-to-grid integration: allowing electric vehicles to share electricity with the power grid;
- Tokenized carbon credits: enabling organizations to buy and sell digital tokens representing carbon offset credits;
- Peer-to-peer applications: empowering electric vehicles to share power with each other.
The creation of the standard serves as a foundational step that will help spur new developments in the field, according to Vo.
“Creating a blockchain-based standard for identifying vehicle and charging infrastructure permits each to be trusted, intelligent, and to securely transact with each other,” Vo said. “This two-way communication between vehicle battery storage and charging station enables smart grid management in a decentralized network. This is the foundation for complex optimization strategies and a greener energy future.”
MOBI’s working group represented an array of interests in the field. Besides Honda and GM, the working group had support from Pacific Gas & Electric, the Polytechnic University of Turin, the IOTA Foundation, and blockchain software companies and consultants: Accenture, IBM, CPChain, and R3.
The standard does not prescribe particular applications or underlying distributed ledger technology, but it strives to ensure that the data attributes and functionalities of each use are available for organizations while creating their own applications.
The development of the standard has the potential to help set in motion important developments in the expansion of the vehicle electrification market, Trancik agreed.
“This has the potential to be a significant step toward enabling the different business models and incentive structures needed to manage electric vehicle charging,” Trancik said. “It is important to be able to manage the system in a decentralized fashion, which this technology may help to do.”
However, Trancik said the standard’s impact depends on what happens next.
“Any such enabling technology needs to be supplemented by strategic infrastructure plans that are themselves informed by existing and potential electric vehicle users’ needs and wants,” Trancik said.
“These strategies should match local conditions and markets and can be designed to support innovation that benefits entire communities and not just the wealthy few,” Trancik said. “Having the means to support bottom-up coordination is not enough on its own. These technological means need to be complemented by strategy.”
In a press release, Christian Köbel, senior project engineer at Honda R&D Europe, noted “today’s energy markets are undergoing a massive transition from centralized power generation in big power plants towards more distributed and volatile power generation. Decentralization and the concept of direct [peer-to-peer] interaction is set to become a key factor in leveraging this new market and building meaningful tools for energy-conscious end customers. The goal is to enable scalable, user-centric energy communities. The EVGI Standard represents one of the first essential building blocks for founding such an ecosystem.”
The standard arrives at an opportune time, according to Vo.
“The timing is right because rapidly maturing technology such as [artificial intelligence], [Internet of Things], 5G, and others, together with blockchain, allows for a more efficient utilization of the billions of dollars in new capital investment of EV infrastructure,” Vo said.
The biggest challenges that lie ahead are adoption and implementation at scale, Vo said.
“No matter how good the standards are, at the end of the day, they are just pieces of paper with writing on them,” Vo said. “They need to be adopted and implemented to create impactful outcomes for the ecosystem. The next step will be using MOBI Standards for applications and settlement in the Open Mobility Network [OMN], a shared business network for mobility data services.”
Vo said the standards can be used by those working on these applications to ensure that vehicles, chargers, and electricity producers “have a secure identity, communicate with a standard messaging format, and automatically record transactions such as charging, generation, and exchange on a distributed ledger.”