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Securing the Energy Transition with the Energy Web Consortia Relay Chain

Zug, Switzerland, 22 April 2022 — Over the past several months our team has conducted a detailed design exercise to finalize the architecture of the upcoming Energy Web Consortia Relay Chain in close partnership with Parity technologies. As we move closer to bringing the network to life, our team is excited to share an update with the broader Energy Web community about this crucial evolution of Energy Web technology.

At the highest level, our vision is for the Energy Web Consortia Relay Chain to become a decentralized global network that secures and validates a) hundreds of millions of identities representing people, organizations, and devices from across the globe and b) application-specific blockchains powering enterprise-grade software solutions.

This post describes the current design of the Energy Web Consortia Relay Chain, how it works, its similarities to the Polkadot Relay Chain, and the token economic model behind the new blockchain.

Energy Web Solutions, Explained

The Energy Web Consortia Relay Chain, or EW-CRC for short, is focused on bringing to market three specific solutions that Energy Web, in partnership with energy companies around the world, has developed since our founding in 2017. These solutions represent areas where decentralized technology — in Energy Web’s case a mix of public blockchains, decentralized identifiers, Energy Web Tokens, and decentralized software architectures — can create significant business value for enterprises. We believe the decentralized multi-tenant environments required for these solutions are only possible with public blockchain technologies, and we see more and more enterprises ready to embrace them.

  • Switchboard, our enterprise-focused self-sovereign identity, and access management solution built on the W3C administered decentralized identifier standard. Examples of existing real-world implementations include Stedin’s identity and access management solution, CAISO flex alert, and our work with Vodafone, Kigen, and KORE wireless.
  • Decentralized data exchange hubs enable different combinations of energy companies, prosumers, and individual devices (e.g., electric vehicles, batteries) to exchange and process granular data in a secure, trustworthy, and decentralized way. Implementation examples include Project EDGE, Project Symphony, and all e-mobility related work in Western Europe with Elia Group.
  • Green proof platforms, our solution focused on enabling next-generation traceability for low, zero, or negative carbon supply chains. Our primary work in this area is focused on renewably mined cryptocurrency, 24/7 renewable energy matching, and sustainable aviation fuel.

In our new architecture, each of these solutions — and the digital identities associated with them — are secured via the EW-CRC. The high-level architecture diagram below paints a picture.

Similar to the Polkadot Relay chain, the EW-CRC will be a decentralized, proof-of-stake blockchain. EW-CRC validators are organizations and/or individuals who have staked a large number of Energy Web Tokens — the existing native utility token of the Energy Web Chain. Energy Web Token staking will also determine governance on EW-CRC.

Just like Polkadot, Validators on EW-CRC secure the state of every blockchain connected to it. These blockchains, called parachains in the Polkadot ecosystem, each have their own governance and token economic configurations. For EW-CRC, we won’t have parachains. Instead, we will have solutions, many of which will be powered by their own application-specific blockchains behind the scenes. These solutions will make it possible for individual enterprises or consortias to govern their own applications and, if they choose, deploy additional tokens on application-specific blockchains embedded within the solutions.

Importantly, validators on EW-CRC secure more than the blockchains underneath. EW-CRC validators will also be performing a crucial identity resolution service. This service ensures that the process of issuing verifiable credentials to or from any digital identity connected to the Energy Web stack is secure and can be trusted. Given the importance of identity, decentralized identifiers, and verifiable credentials in our work at Energy Web, securing these identities and the surrounding attributes is perhaps the single most important function of a public blockchain. This is the primary service delivered by validators on EW-CRC.

This architecture extends the shared security benefit of the Polkadot Relay Chain beyond blockchain by applying it to the identities underlying each solution in the Energy Web ecosystem. By doing so, we produce a major cybersecurity benefit — especially when combined with proof-of-stake and smart token economic design.

Within each solution, the Energy Web team is configuring application-specific blockchains to perform useful work relevant to the business application of our global community of energy companies. Over the coming months, we will provide additional detail on how and why we embed crucial business functions within a decentralized blockchain protocol. This innovation — decentralizing a business function and making it possible for multiple market participants to verify that a specific piece of work is being accurately performed — is the bleeding edge of blockchain innovation in an enterprise setting; it is one of the key differentiators of Energy Web solutions from traditional centralized and siloed software architectures, and we look forward to sharing more detail on this topic with the community soon.

We intend to bring three initial solutions to market under the EW-CRC test network. They include a production version of the Open Charge Network via a decentralized data exchange hub, our work in Australia on Project EDGE, and a green proof platform called, “Green Blocks” focused on helping cryptocurrency miners become 100% renewable. Additional detail on each of these solutions will be released later this year.

Energy Web solutions unlock business value for market participants in a variety of different ways. And since open-source decentralized software requires a number of services in order to run in a production environment, businesses need a simple way to pay for these services, similarly to any (centralized) software offered “as-a- service”.

We aim to make it easy and simple for enterprises to pay and access any solution connected to the EW-CRC. Furthermore, we intend to do so using a novel token model that combines an easy enterprise experience with good token economics.

The new model uses two tokens. One is a new stable coin-like native utility token called the Energy Web Consortia Relay Chain token (CRT); the other is the existing Energy Web Token — the staking and governance token of EW-CRC.

Here’s how it works: enterprise users pay in fiat (government-issued currencies like USD, EUR, CHF, etc.) to access solutions. Our aim is to mimic how enterprises pay for access to traditional software-as-a-service solutions today. Fiat revenues from enterprises will be converted to the native token of the EW-CRC, CRT, a stable coin-like token pegged to a fiat currency.

CRT payments from enterprises are then automatically distributed in two ways. First, a percentage is paid directly to EW-CRC validators for the services they provide. Second, the remainder is used to further enhance the integrity and economic security of the EW-CRC by automatically acquiring and staking Energy Web Tokens — the staking and security token of the EW-CRC — against EW-CRC validators.

In addition to being simple to administer and explain, this model has the effect of further securing enterprise solutions with each as-a-service payment made, unlocking even more business value along the way. With such a design, more solutions with more economic activity taking place on them translates directly to an increase in security for all solutions connected to EW-CRC.

Over the coming weeks and months, our team will continue to provide updates to the Energy Web community about EW-CRC, ways to get involved with the launch of the test Consortia Relay Chain, application-specific blockchains, and eventually the production network.

About Energy Web
Energy Web is a global, member-driven non-profit accelerating the low-carbon, customer-centric energy transition by unleashing the potential of open-source, digital technologies. Our Energy Web Decentralized Operating System (EW-DOS) enables any energy asset, owned by any customer, to participate in any energy market. The Energy Web Chain — the world’s first enterprise-grade, public blockchain tailored to the energy sector — anchors the EW-DOS tech stack. The Energy Web ecosystem comprises leading utilities, grid operators, renewable energy developers, corporate energy buyers, IoT / telecom leaders, and others.



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Energy Web

EW is a global, member-driven nonprofit accelerating a low-carbon electricity system through open-source, decentralized, digital technologies.