Spearheaded by companies like Uber and Airbnb, the “sharing economy” has upended traditional markets while redefining the boundaries between producers and consumers. These capital-light corporations have amassed staggering fortunes while enabling economic opportunity for their clients and consumers. Today, Uber enjoys a market capitalization near $70 billion while Airbnb has been valued at approximately $30 billion.
Importantly, the sharing economy is not exclusive to centralized interests. While Uber and Airbnb provide platforms to connect drivers/hosts with customers, neither company stakes much in any given transaction. Why should these companies lay claim to a finder’s fee? Perhaps, they’re grossly overvalued. Ultimately, gatekeepers like these could become obsolete as decentralized applications provide a path to the future. Producers and consumers may transact without a middleman.
Conjoule and Share&Charge are two blockchain platforms, which could effectively bring the sharing economy to energy consumption. Through Conjoule, customers can bypass traditional electricity companies, and through Share&Charge, drivers might avoid centralized charging stations for their electric vehicles (EV). The opportunity to share these valuable tools (solar panels and charging stations, respectively) could allow owners to earn passive income while helping meet the needs of their neighbors.
Conjoule GmbH, a peer-to-peer energy trading platform that utilizes blockchain technology, recently closed a €3 million Series A investment from innogy Innovation Hub and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO). At present, the service is being piloted in two German cities. Residential “prosumers” (producers + consumers) install solar panels on their homes and sell surplus electricity to local consumers.
Conjoule plans to use the latest investment to expand its technical team and launch commercially.
The company “has a clear vision to create tomorrow’s energy system: it’s decentralised, digitised, and customer friendly,” said Thomas Birr, senior vice president of innovation & business transformation at innogy SE. “It follows the idea of the ‘sharing economy’ where consumers can buy energy directly from their neighbourhood.”
ETHNews has previously written about the potential for solar power-sharing on the Ethereum blockchain.
In May, Share&Charge released its iOS and Android application for EV charging stations. Through the app, users can post listings for their EV charging stations, regulate prices, and set payment options. The income that a person earns through Share&Charge can be used to pay at other EV charging stations or simply cashed out.
Today, July 11, Share&Charge and partner eMotorWerks announced that their Ethereum-based platform will be available in California later this summer, with the pilot program starting on August 1, 2017.
"P2P charging opens the opportunity to break free of infrastructure limitations and gasoline oligopolies to access electricity for their cars," said Dietrich Sümmerman of Share&Charge. "By establishing networks of individuals willing to share their EV charging stations, we are opening up more charging options to EV drivers, while at the same time ensuring station owners are compensated accordingly.”
In a sense, Conjoule and Share&Charge are each focused on improving energy distribution. They enable efficient resource allocation and return power to individuals.