Blockchain goes green: Tokenizing renewable fuel and energy independence

Silent-Power, a company producing and installing CO2-neutral methanol synthesis plants, is working to bring this technology to private residences by tokenizing investment in the project using blockchain, providing a new way for individuals to participate in the renewable energy economy.

The plants use a carbon capture technique that draws carbon dioxide out of air into methanol that is ready to be used in energy applications. When the fuel is burned, only the CO2 that is released is the same CO2 that was captured before, creating a carbon-neutral ecosystem.

The company is using blockchain to enable individuals to participate in the growth of the green fuel economy by offering tokens to eligible investors.

“An increasing number of people are interested in participating in and supporting the growth of the renewable energy economy. However, often practicality and infrastructure issues become a barrier to successful deployment and growth,” said Prof. Dr. sc. techn. ETH Urs. A. Weidmann, CEO and founder of Silent.

Methanol can be used in mini power plants such as one developed by Silent-Power, called the Econimo. It is a combined heat and power generating device (CHP) and uses a microturbine that generates 30 kW power and 60 kW to heat or cool water.

“The mini power plants function independently and can be deployed nearly anywhere, instead of the traditional, centralized, large-scale power plants that have to send power hundreds of kilometers over the grid,” Prof. Weidmann added. “The Silent-Power energy concept relies instead on a robust distributed network model that involves thousands of Econimo mini power plants. This helps to avoid the transmission losses experienced by large centralized power plants.”

The first Econimo became operational in 2016 in Switzerland. The company is looking to build more than 2,500 Econimo units to be distributed over the next five years. These mini power plants can play the role of power grid stabilizers for utility companies, compensating for irregularity in supply from other renewable energy sources, for example, solar or wind power. Unlike the electricity produced by wind or solar, renewable methanol can be a stable storage of energy over unlimited periods of time.

The global methanol market was estimated at $31 billion in 2016, with growth expected to continue. Methanol is the second most traded liquid in the world after crude oil.

Today, almost 90% of the world’s energy supply comes from fossil fuels and it is estimated that since the 1850s, more than 135 billion tonnes of crude oil to drive our cars, fuel our power stations and heat our homes have been consumed (click here for a precise overview of fossil energy use). That figure still increases every day. It is estimated that by 2040, the world’s energy consumption will have increased by almost 50%.