Russian electricity grid tests blockchain for retail payments

National operator aims to improve transparency and cut debts

                                

Russia’s national energy grid operator is to test blockchain for retail electricity payments.

The aim is to bring automation and transparency to Russia’s notoriously inefficient electricity sector.

Grid operator Rosetti is partnering with Waves, the distributed ledger technology (DLT) startup. It hopes blockchain will help reduce debt in the sector.

Unpaid household electricity bills amount to 800 billion rubles ($12.6bn, £9.5bn, €11.3bn). Inaccurate metering and the failure of some payments to reach suppliers are also problems for the retail electricity industry.

Waves’ solution involves a household app that monitors energy use in real time and automates payments to suppliers. It uses blockchain to guarantee payments and make transactions transparent to all actors in the supply chain.

In a blog post (Russian), Waves said the next stage of testing was likely to start early next year. A successful trial involving 400 households in the Kaliningrad and Sverdlovsk regions has already taken place.

The next phase will involve all households in both areas, with the eventual aim of a nationwide roll out.

Russia is forging ahead with the use of blockchain in a number of areas. This year, the state of Nizhny Novgorod began testing a blockchain-based application for public administration, including filing taxes and verifying identity.

Russia has previously hatched plans to to apply blockchain technology to all government data systems. This would provide an estimated economic benefit of $25bn over five years.

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