Block to the Future

Block to the Future

I imagine there was a time when transactions were simple. If you wanted to purchase a horse, you would first research who might be selling a horse, take said horse for a test-drive (I'm assuming that's what you do with a horse, of course, of course), and then, if you were satisfied, you would pay the asking price and ride away into the sunset. Even in times long past horses and carriages, it seemed like transacting was a fairly straight forward procedure, yet that is really not true any more.

As the digital age latched on to us and dragged us all kicking and screaming into the 21st century, it became necessary for us to adapt to our new fast paced world - hence the introduction of a paperless money system, making overwhelming household debt easier than ever before. Not surprisingly, with this new system came a completely new set of challenges, particularly when talking about security. Previously, this security was managed by our banks and financial institutions, but our world evolved, ultimately giving rise to many alternative currencies, which in turn, required their own highly advanced levels of security.

Enter Blockchain - a facility which largely gained popularity as the cornerstone of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin - a decentralised consensus driven distributed ledger which makes the system almost inpenetrable, that is now being recognised for it's ability to handle transactions on a much broader playing field than just the currency markets. But for many, Blockchain is still as mysterious a beast as the dark web from which it was born.

So what is Blockchain? Essentially, it's a distributed ledger of transactions across a global network. Think of your bank as an example (well, an example of exactly what Blockchain isn't), we all know there is no shortage of 'hidden' transactions with our banks, fees for using your account at certain times, fees for talking to the wrong person, fees for not paying your fees - some of these fees are so small that we rarely bother even questioning them, but the point is, your bank - and only your bank keeps your ledger, so if they make a mistake and you fail to notice, well, kiss that money goodbye. The banks hold very little accountability, which puts you, the consumer, in a very high risk position, with very few rights.

This is where Blockchain differs, as all systems attached to a Blockchain network carry a digital ledger of transactions - when a transaction is entered, it first has to be verified by every other system on the network, and every system on the network has to agree to its legitimacy before it is approved. This means that in order to hack the system, you would basically need to hack every computer attached to the network simultaneously, which is millions upon millions of systems.

Suffice to say, it is a little more complex than that, but at least now you have some idea as to how it works. The beauty of the system is there is no requirement for trust, and no room for human error. People, businesses, anyone, can transact over this network without needing to verify who is paying them or who they're paying. It is so secure in fact, that we are now seeing Blockchain being utilised on renewable energy projects around the world.

Last year, Yates Electrical Services opened discussions with US based Microgrid creators, Lo3 Energy. Their fully functioning microgrid - based in Brooklyn, New York, is allowing residential solar generators and residential consumers to trade electricity usage over an innovative app based network facilitated by Blockchain. Participants are able to control their energy usage, from how much they wish to float for purchase, to how much they wish to sell or buy their electricity for. Yates Electrical Services are now looking to trial this model in the Riverland under the moniker "Enexa", or the Energy Exchange of Australia, for both its overall interest, and its viability in the South Australian energy market.

"We're working with Yates Electrical Services to put choice back into the hands of energy consumers."

The possibility of a 'prosumer' driven energy market is indeed a fascinating concept, and it will be interesting to see if a project such as this can find legs in our tumultuous climate.

Last week, Yates Electrical Services hosted Lo3 Energy's Senior Marketing & Video Producer, Sasha Santiago. Predominantly in the region to film a promotional video for Enexa, Sasha had the opportunity to speak with some of our residents and businesses to get the low-down on how people generally feel about energy in the South Australia, particularly in the Riverland region.

Belinda Kinkead, Lo3 Energy's Australian based Director, said "We're working with Yates Electrical Services to put choice back into the hands of energy consumers. They can choose to prioritise what's important to them and their community, whatever that is - lowest cost of energy, keeping money within the local community, supporting local jobs, developing new skills, sustainability, reliability."

Yates Electrical Services are currently seeking a number of Renmark based residents with and without solar installations on their homes to assist us in the trial of South Australia's first microgrid. The trial basically consists of having an additional meter installed behind your market meter on your home which can communicate with other meters in the area using Blockchain technology. This data will provide us more information on how something like this could be integrated into our current network setup, and will give us a better understanding on the projects viability.

Numbers are very limited, so please don't be disappointed if we don't get you on board. We will be choosing sites with varying conditions to gather the best possible data moving forward.

If you are interested in getting involved, please feel free to drop us a line by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call us on (08) 8119 0777.