Powering the EV industry requires blockchain to be at its heart

5 minute read
28 August 2019

The growing popularity of electric vehicles, as well as the ongoing challenges around constructing the charging infrastructure necessary to make their widespread rollout possible, is challenging a range of technology based applications to demonstrate their role within the new industry - and blockchain is at the heart of this.

EV development and blockchain

Data storage and optimisation are the clear frontrunners where this core role is concerned, given blockchain's decentralised ledger which stores data transactions accurately while using unique crypto based technology to ensure that each transaction in the 'chain' is linked to the last one. This provides extra security where transactions are concerned and the need to collect, analyse and utilise data collected while driving is essential to an EV's performance, usability and safety. That data is even more critical with an EV because the battery is sensitive to abuse. Given the battery is the costliest part of the car, both the battery supplier and the end user will be keen to maintain a record of the battery's condition. The ability of blockchain to maintain such immutable record will help in estimating the battery's 'health'. Should the battery not perform how it should, the end user can point to the record.

Moving onto infrastructure, the adoption of EVs in the UK is already at a record rate and the existence of nearly 20,000 parking facilities in the UK means that the opportunities for collaboration and growth alongside the EV industry is inevitable. The ability of this network to be closely integrated with The National Grid (allowing the optimisation of surplus energy, even facilitating the sale of energy back to the grid) requires the pinpoint accuracy of the data storage qualities that blockchain encompasses - and in the process, this allows EVs to be part of a better-connected, distributed energy network.

Blockchain P2P opportunities for homeowners

As well as connecting to energy infrastructure, blockchain provides the ability for consumers to cut out the middleman, allowing individuals and entities to trade and buy excess energy between them, without a wholesaler, or central, organisation. Individuals who produce their own energy at home can trade it with others. Replacing traditional energy suppliers with a blockchain-based platform has the potential to reduce consumers' energy bills by around 40%. With P2P EV charging platforms, people can make their chargers available to others when they are not using them. This then means that their idle chargers become cash in the bank. EV drivers simply look for available chargers in the area and charge their cars before they run out of battery power. The homeowner decides the rate and the blockchain verifies what the driver owes and digitally transacts payment.

This approach can also help make new EV manufacturers competitive. Commercial charging stations are specific to car manufacturers such as Tesla, who have made significant investments in infrastructure. The more P2P sharing spreads with the use of blockchain amongst individuals, the better-poised new entrants are to the market. The P2P sharing approach also aids completion and better products for the consumer, as OEMs look to add their own charging points to the infrastructure that are more adaptable to blockchain.

The race is very much on amongst not only car manufacturers, but car parks and a variety of businesses/ stakeholders to show ultra-high levels of innovation where a comprehensive network to support and facilitate EV operation is concerned - the prominent role of blockchain technology and its close fit with the nuts and bolts of the modern car industry, means that close liaison and collaboration will be the name of the game moving forward.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.