Fostering the Energy Transition — an interview with Alex D’Elia

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“Peer-to-peer energy sharing coupled with community solar, electric vehicle charging, storage and management of the microgrid system within a decentralised governance method would be an excellent marriage of distributed ledger technologies and equity for a more sustainable and inclusive society,” says Alex D’Elia in our interview about the DLT4EU Virtual Field Lab where he and his team developed peer-to-peer energy solutions to foster energy communities among prosumers.

DLT4EU stimulates cutting-edge distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) for public and social good by connecting the expertise of leading entrepreneurs and developers with real-world challenges and beneficiaries.

DLT4EU is led by a consortium comprised of Metabolic, Digital Catapult and Ideas for Change, with direct support and advice of the European Commission’s Joint Research Center.

This interview is part of an ongoing DLT4EU Interview Series and was first published at “proofing future, bridging people + ideas”.

Alex D’Elia specialises in mesh networks and smart grids. A member of CETRI-TIRES, he is also part of the IoT council and is actively involved in R&D on network, energy distributed and decentralised infrastructure technologies. His experience includes 15 years in wireless technologies, mesh networks, ISP, system administration, renewables, efficiency and resilience models.

Alex D’Elia founded and was president of Mangrovia.net, a company developing mesh technologies to provide distributed and decentralized communication networks in the smart city. This then gave way to his toolkit solution, which Dajie was based on. Today, Dajie is known as PROSUME, a platform implementing energy interactions on the blockchain.

Sebastian Klemm: Which deep economic reforms do we need to tackle, in order to arrive at regenerative & intragenerationally just societies that manage to live within planetary boundaries?

Sebastian Klemm: One of the systemic issues that make our world increasingly fragile is biodiversity loss. Thus, a holistic approach for making new normative orders in support of renewable energies also requires focus on safeguarding biodiversity as a primary source of healthy ecosystems and regenerative economies therein.

Thinking about hydropower and solar power plants, wind farms and overland lines: How can efforts to protect flora and fauna be reconciled with the production of sustainable energy? How can financial incentives for renewable energy developments best be examined and monitored with regard to their subsequent environmental impacts?

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Sebastian Klemm: What particular qualities of the DLT4EU accelerator distinguish this programme in your opinion?

Sebastian Klemm: What are the societal and environmental challenges that you address within your particular DLT4EU Virtual Field Lab project “Enabling Peer-to-Peer Energy Solutions”?

Sebastian Klemm: How do you apply distributed ledger technologies in your DLT4EU Virtual Field Lab project to help solve these challenges for the public good?

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Sebastian Klemm: As you speak of “a fairer distribution of resources and a more decentralized governance of society”: Could you give concrete examples — at best on the basis of energy projects you have been involved in — where a fairer distribution and a more decentralized governance already work well?

Sebastian Klemm: Throughout the DLT4EU programme and along the bootcamps with mentoring therein: What have you been developing so far?

Sebastian Klemm: In a previous interview, Maarja Meitern and Rolf Bastiaanssen of Bax & Company advocate a new metric called “The Local Levelised Cost of Energy” to help communities determine if the local sustainable energy system is a financially viable alternative to the cost of current centralised energy generation:It covers lifetime costs of energy generation and distribution, divided by energy production. This measure calculates the present value of total system costs operations for the community it serves [and] differs from the known LCoE Levelised Costs of Energy, which considers only individual assets. By including transmission and distribution, the measure allows comparing smart grids, and crucially, allows comparison with current centralised energy systems.

Do you think there is a need for a new metric for local energy to demonstrate the value of microgrids?

Sebastian Klemm: What evidence of positive impact and benefits of the DLT4EU accelerator do you see already?

Sebastian Klemm: In our preceding interview about DLT4EU, Alice MacNeil says: One of my favourite experiences was with the Venture Teams as part of a Storytelling Masterclass by Hayley Bagnall of Altus Impact, as part of the Barcelona Bootcamp in November. It was rewarding to see how the teams shifted their narrative about what they were doing, from a technology-first perspective to a more social, impact-driven focus. Not only was it fun, but we learned a lot about how to tell the story of your project and the power of storytelling. DLT can be quite niche, and this kind of approach allows us to tell a better story to a wider audience, to connect DLT4EU to a more public and democratic space.

What have been inspiring moments to you personally during the overall DLT4EU programme so far?

Sebastian Klemm: Were there any particular developments in other Virtual Field Lab teams that also helped you?

Sebastian Klemm: To close the loop we need to design sustainable energy systems also sustainable in themselves — for instance by applying circular manufacturing in the solar and storage industries.

In a previous interview, Franz Hochstrasser, CEO of Raise Green, states:The end of a solar project’s useful life can be up to 30 or even 40 years, and decommissioning systems is something that every project developer will need to consider.

How do you tackle the issue of end-of-life solar modules with your venture PROSUME? Do you see opportunities for knowledge transfer in this regard with the DLT4EU participants in the Virtual Field Lab about Collaborative reuse of digital devices?

Sebastian Klemm: How will you sustain your engagement and project development beyond the final presentations at the European Commission in March 2021?

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