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Boosting Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure With Blockchain

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

The researchers at the University of Waterloo have figured out an exciting way to integrate blockchain in energy systems. When implemented, the blockchain-focused charging system could change the electric vehicle charging infrastructure for good.

Electric vehicle sales have been on a steady rise over the last few years. While China still dominates the market, the United States is not far behind.

According to the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, the EV sales only comprise of 1.2 percent of all vehicle sales in the United States in 2017. The numbers have been increasing since then.

With that said, trust is one major issue that had always plagued electric vehicle – maybe even hampered its sales.

All the parties involved are sure that the other has tampered with the system in some way. While EV owners believe that they are overcharged for charging their cars, property owners claim that they are being underpaid.

As a result, the whole system reeks of distrust. This is where a blockchain-oriented charging system could come into play.

In a statement, a Ph.D. candidate in Waterloo’s David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, and co-author of the study, Christian Gorenflo, said:

“Energy services are increasingly being provided by entities that do not have well-established trust relationships with their customers and partners. In this context, blockchains are a promising approach for replacing a central trusted party, for example, making it possible to implement direct peer-to-peer energy trading.”

A Blockchain-Powered Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

In the study, the researchers collaborated with EV-charging service providers to explore how blockchain could improve the current charging infrastructure.

The providers had to work with property owners to install EV supply equipment for electric vehicle owners to use for a fee. The charging service provider and each property owner can then share the revenue stream from the charging station.

Since the service provider operates the EV supply equipment, the property owner must trust the provider to compensate them fairly for the electricity used.

Based on the case study, the Waterloo team identified three necessary steps to incorporate blockchain technology into an energy system. These are:

1. Identify the Trust Issue

The level of trust that exists in the relationship between the property owner, service provider, and the EV owner must be sufficient to achieve the applications’ goal. If it’s not, the researchers had to record it as a trust issue.

2. Design a Blockchain System

The next step is to design a simple blockchain system that will enable the use of smart contracts to resolve any trust issues.

If the parties have to replace a legacy system, the new system must closely mimic the existing interfaces. That way, dependencies can continue to function with little modifications.

3. Migrate the System

Now that you have a distrust-mitigating blockchain in place, the final step involves migrating the rest of the system over time. With this last migration, the business can ultimately grow from a blockchain into a truly decentralized solution.

Gorenflo noted:

“In the end, we could even have a system where there is machine-to-machine communication rather than people-to-machine. If an autonomous vehicle needs power, it could detect that and drive to the nearest charging station and communicate on a platform with that charging station for the power.”

Read More: Quantum Resistant Ledger Could Make Current Blockchain Models Obsolete

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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