No more ‘vanilla’ EVM blockchain for renewables-focused Energy Web

Exclusive: Energy Web is tapping Polkadot in a move away from its EVM blockchain


Vector-3D/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


Energy Web is moseying on over to the Polkadot ecosystem in a bid to scale the renewables-focused firm’s decarbonization product line designed to appeal to traditional energy behemoths. 

The nonprofit had been running its tech stack on a proprietary blockchain based on Ethereum and the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). 

The ongoing transition to Polkadot — where Energy Web has applied to become a parachain — is designed to bake in flexibility to craft a “Web3 as a service” setup, according to Jessie Morris, Energy Web’s chief executive. 

Morris, in an exclusive interview with Blockworks on Tuesday, said Energy Web’s first iteration of the London nonprofit’s in-house EVM chain was a “little vanilla.” 

A main upside of Energy Web’s pivot toward Polkadot (DOT), according to Morris, is to take part in the protocol’s “shared security model,” adding that “one of the biggest benefits of injecting some Web3 tech to their stack is enhanced cybersecurity” through decentralization. 

The idea for Energy Web is to accelerate the tools available at the firm’s disposal to wrangle a number of the world’s largest producers of fossil fuels to accelerate their adoption of a number of methods to mitigate, or eliminate, polluting products. 

Morris’ nonprofit has booked a number of deals over the years with large energy producers and related fossil fuel companies — including the publicly traded Shell, plus Volkswagen. 

Energy Web has two main areas of focus set to carry over through the Polkadot transition, Morris said: tapping Web3 technology to create a “network effect” for “really big electric utilities to let them have digital tools” to tie together the likes of electric vehicles, air conditioners and electric batteries. 

The other is essentially to bring about the ability for partners to track and measure renewable energy usage via Energy Web and Polkadot. Corresponding metrics for publicly traded companies have faced scrutiny on earnings calls. 

Bitcoin miners have been one area of focus. 

Those efforts, which for Energy Web and the firm’s partners rely on a combination of on-chain and off-chain processing technology, are designed to monitor the energy consumption of renewables products on local energy grids. 

As renewable energy interest and usage in the US and elsewhere grows, it’s become markedly more important to ensure that energy production and associated flows leading to consumption are supported by aging power grids. 

The problem has been intensified by that rising US energy demand coming into conflict with sagging decades-old infrastructure — complicating renewable efforts trying to contort and force their energy production into grids that cannot support them. 

“Mini blockchains” full of “worker nodes”

Energy Web’s solution in part has been crafted based on a network of “worker nodes.” 

The nodes in their current iteration are akin to a “mini blockchain,” Morris said — essentially “performing work specific to [different] applications” for different Energy Web clients.

Morris said current issues with that setup include the fact that Energy Web’s first-time blockchain doesn’t have the ability to handily connect those worker nodes. 

Energy Web, as such, has not run into the “traditional scalability issues” of blockchain technologies running via EVM and tied to Ethereum. The nonprofit as a result has had to spend a lot of time “holding the hands of these corporates to launch their own solutions,” he said. 

“That does not scale,” he said. “We really need to make it possible for these companies to roll out their…solutions, though we will continue to work with large energy companies to scale their solutions.”

Energy Web’s Polkadot integration is designed to create a “Web2-like experience” for companies  — in the sense that executives will have the ability to log into an interface maintained by Energy Web. 

Those companies can then click through a series of potential grid energy management and tracking salutations without cording. And an understanding of Polkadot’s tech stack is “not needed” in doing so, he said.

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