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Published on September 30th, 2018 | by Michael Barnard


What Is Blockchain? (Blockchain Report Excerpt)

September 30th, 2018 by  

Along with our regular daily clean tech news coverage, CleanTechnica also produces in-depth reports on various aspects of clean energy and clean transport. One of the emerging technologies we cover that isn’t directly a clean tech innovation is blockchain, which promises to be a catalyst for innovation in the green economy in the very near future. Blockchain is probably most widely known to the public as “having something to do with cryptocurrency and Bitcoin, right?,” which is partially correct, but the technology itself has a wide range of applications, some of which will be crucial in the fields of distributed renewable energy, grid management and energy storage, and smart contracts, among others.

The full report Blockchain – An Innovation Enabler for Clean Technology, which was published in July, is a deep dive into blockchain and its potential, and we will be posting more excerpts from the report over the coming weeks. (See the first one here.)

Blockchain is just an accounting system at heart. It keeps track of transactions, just like a list of purchases in a spreadsheet. And it makes those transactions available over the internet. It actually doesn’t add much in the way of new functionality. Pretty much anything you can do with blockchain you can do with a database and basic web technology.

Non-functional features are where blockchain starts getting interesting. The most obvious is that there is no central database. Instead, the ledger is independently hosted by a bunch of different people and organizations and synchronized between them.

The second interesting non-functional feature is that transactions are securely linked in a chain using public key and private key encryption. Blocks of transactions are trusted and easy to verify because you can go back down the history of transactions to the first transaction and know each link in the chain is there.

The third interesting non-functional feature is that in keeping with the distributed nature of the ledger, there is no central guarantor of fidelity. Instead, there is a mutually validating network of distributed nodes which keep each other honest.

Finally, each block in the chain is a set of transactions and a reference back to the previous block, which are run through a hashing algorithm to give a unique resulting hash for that particular set of data. That means that it’s easy to verify that the block hasn’t been tampered with and to go backwards through the chain.

Really, that’s all blockchain is. A bunch of people with computers agree to run nodes which mutually validate a distributed ledger of transactions.

Users of blockchain don’t have to do all the heavy lifting of maintaining copies of the blocks, finding the hashes, and synchronizing with other nodes. Like a banking application, there are apps and websites that allow users to put transactions into the pool for the people who run the computers to push into blocks.

Our main goal is to create an ecosystem where green energy producers, energy traders and buyers as well as crypto community could all work together and benefit from each other. Our WPR token (the ICO token) carries multiple values: a) it provides access to the energy donation pool, which is filled by energy dona- tions from project developers on-boarded on the plat- form; b) it is a tradable crypto token with high trading volumes and good liquidity into the crypto market; c) it also gives priority access to the energy actions ran on the WePower platform. – Nick Martyniuk, co-founder and CEO of WePower

Stay tuned for more excerpts from Blockchain – An Innovation Enabler for Clean Technology, or view the summary and request the full report at https://products.cleantechnica.com/reports/ 


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About the Author

is Chief Strategist with TFIE Strategy Inc and co-founder of two current startups. He works with startups, existing businesses and investors to identify opportunities for significant bottom line growth and cost takeout in our rapidly transforming world. He is editor of The Future is Electric and designing for health. He regularly publishes analyses of low-carbon technology and policy in sites including Newsweek, Slate, Forbes, Huffington Post, Quartz, CleanTechnica and RenewEconomy, and his work is regularly included in textbooks. Third-party articles on his analyses and interviews have been published in dozens of news sites globally and have reached #1 on Reddit Science. He's available for consulting engagements, speaking engagements and Board positions.

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