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Blockchain technology and its impact on electric vehicles

Context

Blockchain is a distributed ledger, or database, shared across a public or private computing network. The technology negates the role of a central authority to verify transactions between two or more parties to avoid double spending. Every piece of information is mathematically encrypted and added as a new “block” to the chain of historical records; validated by multiple consensus protocols before being added to the ledger. Blockchain can also be programmed with smart contracts - a set of conditions recorded on the block-chain, to trigger transactions when the conditions are met. Blockchain technology has multiple potential applications in the energy sector from tracking of electrons to processing of payments. Given that the benefit of increased adoption of Electric Vehicles (EV) will be compounded if the source of electricity used for charging is clean, the application of blockchain in the sector becomes even more crucial. 

Relevance & Impact

With adoption of blockchain, the electric vehicle eco-system can see many immediate benefits like

  • EVs can automatically charge and process payments if the vehicle is at a preferred station, executing contracts directly with the station based on user preferences
  • The source of electricity can be verified (renewable or not) for charging EV if blockchain is implemented across the power sector, with a programmed preference for one over the other.
  • Payments can be received and verified instantly via automatic confirmations
  • EVs can feed electricity into the grid if the selling market price is very attractive, executing contracts automatically and acting as moving peak shaving electricity storage units  

In addition, new business models such as secure P2P (peer to peer) rideshare systems, that limits the role of intermediaries and aggregators may be enabled through blockchain with seamless, secure and efficient payment systems.

Who should care

  • Shared mobility companies
  • Generators, transmission and distribution companies
  • EV and charging station manufacturers
  • State Transport Departments and Electricity Regulatory Commissions

Case study

Car eWallet (Germany)

An EV payment system called “Car eWallet” has been developed by ZF, UBS and IBM that allows users to pay vehicle fees on the go via blockchain. Digital e-wallet can accept car sharing payments, making cars available for temporary car rentals while not in use. It also allows drivers of electric vehicles to seamlessly roam across charging areas, where the charging shall be done autonomously with as little human interaction as possible, and keeping the transactions fully transparent, automated and fraud proof. The system also supports block-chain toll payment, eliminating the necessity to stop at toll stations.