The volume of potential use cases being tipped for blockchain are increasing day by day – yet few seem to be ready in practice – so, when I received an email suggesting that the next area ripe for disruption was the energy sector, I was interested to learn more. A lightly edited Q&A with Guy Halford-Thompson, founder and CEO of BTL Group, which develops and invests in blockchain technology, can be found below.
How common do you think the use of blockchain will become in the energy sector?
The energy sector is very complex and has a large number of areas that are going to see a significant cost saving by applying blockchain technology. Over time we will see large adoption of blockchain technology in many areas in the energy industry.
When do you think this will start to happen and when might it reach its peak?
This is already starting to happen with the various pilots and projects that are currently underway. As more pilots continue to be run, we will start to see accelerated increase in adoption, but we are still in the early stages of it.
Will we start to see a host of startups focused on this particular area?
We are already seeing a number of startups begin to focus on the energy sector and this number will likely grow significantly over the next 12 months.
Like in finance, will this mostly involve the use of private blockchains?
For back office processes, which is the area BTL is most focused on, and which have the largest potential cost savings, it makes more sense to use private blockchains. There are other areas in which public blockchains can be more suitable, but generally the amount of cost saving is significantly less.
What do you think the future will hold for the use of public and private blockchains?
Public blockchains are very effective where distributed trust is essential in the network. However, many of the applications of blockchain technology do not require completely decentralised trust, hence why we are seeing much larger adoption of private blockchain networks.
Outside of energy, what other areas do you see as large growth areas for blockchain? And on what timescale?
Blockchain is going to impact all industries. We are already seeing significant traction in the finance space. I see huge potential for blockchain technology in the healthcare & pharmaceutical and online gaming spaces, but over time, we will see it adopted across all verticals.
What areas are being overhyped and will blockchain never be useful for (perhaps despite endless proposals to the contrary)?
I see more misunderstanding than hype. We are just scratching the surface when it comes to the potential of the technology, but often people misunderstand how best to apply it to their industry, and then put it down to over-hype. Blockchain is not natively going to solve all industry challenges, but it enables development of specific solutions which have not been possible before today.
What are BTL’s ambitions short, medium and long-term?
BTL's mission is to bring the world's critical systems into consensus. In order to do this, we have developed Interbit, our core platform. In the short term, we are validating both our technology and the solutions we are building around it. In the long term, we are developing a platform which will become an industry standard on which to build enterprise grade solutions.
Is there anything else you want to share?
The blockchain industry is fast moving, and we are very excited to be driving change and working with some of the world’s largest institutions in both the energy and finance sectors, as well as running some of the most significant pilots in the blockchain space.
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