UK energy supplier Centrica to trial blockchain technology

LONDON (Reuters) - British energy supplier Centrica CNA.L will launch a local energy market trial later this year using blockchain technology, it said on Monday.

Blockchain provides a secure platform for consumers to buy and sell directly from each other and is being explored by several European utilities which say it could revolutionize the energy sector.

Centrica said its trial is likely to be the largest blockchain project in Britain carried out by one of the big six energy suppliers.

The project will test a range of energy trading transactions including multi-party peer-to-peer trading between 200 businesses and residential participants, it said.

The trial will be part of Centrica’s local energy market project in Cornwall, southwest England, which is testing several technologies such as storage devices and domestic renewable power generation including solar roof panels.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to test blockchain technology beyond the theoretical and put it into practice,” Mark Hanafin, chief executive of Centrica Business, said in a statement.

Centrica will work with U.S.-based tech start-up LO3 Energy on the project which last year secured an undisclosed amount of funding from Centrica’s 100 million pound ($137.3 million) Innovations arm.

Centrica is also working on a trial in Texas with LO3 Energy of what it said would be the world’s first micro-hedging market for business customers.

($1 = 0.7283 pounds)

Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Adrian Croft