How Blockchain Is Transforming The Energy Industry

By Luis Colasante - Oct 23, 2017

source BTCManager

edited by kcontents

Commodity and energy trading houses have proven that they can adapt their business model in an economy that imposes more capital requirements and regulations every day. These companies have invested millions of dollars in the last decade to build efficient systems for their regulatory requirements and key risks. Today, a new technology, blockchain, is shaping the commodity market, making it more efficient with reduced transaction costs.

Blockchain is a disruptive technology that allows storing data without the need for a central authority, implying that financial transactions will no longer be stored in a central database but distributed to several other computers that store data locally. For this reason, this technology is called distributed ledger technology (DLT). Each transaction is recorded and added to the previous one, resulting in a growing chain of information.

Blockchain is a buzzword in the financial industry, and it’s slowly captivating the trading floor, as well as the power and utilities sector, which is tiptoeing to disrupt the centralized business model approach based on legacy systems.

Based on platform and network-based approach, the DLT system can be adapted to a specific business case, with characteristics ensuring security and disintermediation at a rapid pace. It features reduced operating costs, but there are certain limitations.

Financial institutions already face an uphill task of confronting the threat of a Fintech sector that’s trying to seduce their clients with innovative services at fewer costs, mainly bypassing the banking institutions. Fintech would squeeze the revenues and profits of the banking sector, as they target the most lucrative parts of their earnings, predominantly in the payment and wealth management services.

Technology that is changing the financial services sector is entering the energy industry: 

blockchain, technology best known for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The financial institutions have the infrastructure and regulatory expertise in the sector. Agile Fintech startups can move quickly, think outside the box, and rapidly develop and launch new products and services. Financial majors either finance the startups or collaborate with them to create proprietary blockchain projects.

Global banks recently started partnering with Fintech firms like R3 and Finastra to develop a blockchain-based marketplace for syndicated loans. Blockchain startup Digital Asset Holdings is at the helm of providing DLT for regulated financial institutions. Created by former J.P. Morgan Chase executive Blythe Masters, Digital Asset Holdings is based on Ethereum technology.

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance—formed in 2017 by a group of institutions from banking, insurance, IT consulting, startups and academics—is developing Ethereum blockchain code for customized and private services for the partners.

In the oil and gas sector, the use of blockchain technology is still in its nascent form, with pilot projects happening in European gas trading for faster transactions with reduced costs.

Commodity trading has embraced blockchain, with the Fintech sector (particularly in Asia Pacific) making strides with the technology that will facilitate new sources of funding for cross-border trade finance in the era of strict regulations, which isn’t favorable for the small and medium-sized firms. The digital trading platform and smart contracts based on the blockchain would improve the liquidity by attracting diversified sources of funding, faster processing of transactions and reduce fraud risk—all at lower costs.

Reporting and regulatory requirements are continuously becoming stringent (e.g., MiFID II or EMIR), increasing the finance charges of the trading floor. For this reason, it’s essential to have a clear framework to integrate blockchain technology in the sector.

Due to blockchain developments in the financial industry, power producers and the utilities sector can also embrace this technology. Some principal assumptions used in the financial sector can be applied to the energy sector, like the decentralized storage of transaction data, and new decentralized business models no longer require third-party intermediaries, with payments being done via cryptocurrencies. With the transactions being governed by smart contracts, funding and automatic payments are imitated with a sequence of approvals, without requiring a letter of credit, thus eliminating the delay time.

The most relevant difference between the energy sector and the financial industry is the final product itself (in this case the electricity/electron) must also be taken into account because they need to be transported and distributed via the network infrastructure.

With much emphasis on climate change mitigation measures, the integration of renewable energy in the energy mix is a major preoccupation of every country, and blockchain would simplify the decentralized electricity network among individuals along with their platform and networking capabilities. One of the exciting initiatives making headlines is Energimine, which aims to reduce global energy consumption by encouraging individuals with energy tokens to use their platform for a peer-to-peer marketplace to buy and sell energy and a reward platform.

To accelerate this technology, large utilities and commodity traders are working together, like the Energy Web Foundation consortium or the Enerchain Project, where European utilities analyze and create a legal framework in the energy sector.

Blockchain technology shows great potential, and can be used not only to execute energy supply transactions, but also to create the basis for clearing processes, metering, billing, application in the documentation of ownership, the state of asset, renewable energy and white certificates, guarantees of origin and emission allowances.

For the full deployment of this technology, it’s necessary to have a clear framework where all participants agree on predefined rules based on common standards.

Blockchain technology is revolutionizing the world of finance, but has been called Fintech‘s double-edged sword due to the limitations regarding processing a more significant number of transactions in a secured manner while meeting stringent security standards. The absence of governance is a considerable setback, with lack of cooperation between public and private platforms endangering creditability and maturity. There’s much enthusiasm among financial institutions in nurturing this new technology, taking to the next level, and adapting it to a large scale for diversified applications.

The potential cost-saving and process efficiencies are too compelling to ignore. Some energy companies have calculated the savings to the tune of 30 to 60 percent on their structural costs. These savings come mainly from reduced labor costs, reduced manual and semi-automated process-related efforts, reduced capital costs through faster settlements, and reduced technology costs by reducing the dependency on multiple systems.

Blockchain technology will be the accelerator of the world energy transition, helping to have a decarbonized and decentralized energy system that will be more resilient and cost-effective.

By Luis Colasante and Taniga Krish for



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China to develop travelling wave reactor

28 September 2017

China National Nuclear Power Company Ltd (CNNP), a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) plans to establish a company to promote the development of a  travelling wave reactor (TWR) design, the state-run China Daily reported on 12 September.

The new organisation will be a partnership with four Chinese energy companies and will be registered at the Shanghai Stock Exchange with a capital of CNY1bn ( $153.2m). US-based TerraPower, a company founded in 2006 with the support of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has been working with CNNC on the development of TWRs since a memorandum of understanding was signed in September 2015 to develop a TWR jointly.

A TWR could use natural uranium, depleted uranium, used light-water reactor fuel, or thorium as reload fuel following its start-up.  According to TerraPower’s website, the travelling wave reactor (TWR) is a Generation IV, liquid sodium-cooled fast reactor based on existing fast reactor technologies.

According to a statement on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the project will be carried out in partnership with Huadian Fuxin Energy Limited Company (15%), Zhejiang Zheneng Electric Power Co Ltd (10%), Shenhua Group (30%) and Jointo Energy Investment Co Ltd Hebei (10%). CNNP will own 35% of the company.

CNNP Technology Investment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNNP, also plans to establish CNNP TWR Technology Investment (Tianjin) Co Ltd in partnership with the four investors. The new company, located in Tianjin, has a registered capital of CNY750m



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Samples look to meet the basic specs provided by the government

October 18, 2017

Until now, the border wall prototypes have been difficult for the public to view. With just a few days left to complete their visions of what the U.S./ Mexico border wall could look like, the Golden State Times has posted this video showing what the prototype contractors have come up with.

The samples on the video all look to meet the basic specs provided by the government -  30 feet high, climb-proof, tamper-proof - but none shown on the video seem very pleasing to the eye. No word on if there will be a vote to choose which style best suits. The deadline for the completed sample walls is October 26.



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US warns of ongoing attacks on energy firms and critical infrastructure


The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have issued a warning that malicious hackers are actively targeting government departments, and firms working in the energy, nuclear, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.

The warning, sent via email to energy and industrial firms late on Friday, reveals that hacking groups have been targeting critical infrastructure since at least May 2017, and “in some cases”, have successfully compromised victims’ networks.

As is becoming increasingly common, the initial organisations targeted by the attacks are trusted third party suppliers to the hackers’ intended quarry.

These “staging targets” provide a pivot point and malware repository that can be used by the hacking group to increase their chances of successfully compromising their intended target – the network of the organisation working in the energy sector or other critical infrastructure.

According to the DHS, the campaign is still ongoing as the (most likely) state-sponsored attackers pursue their ultimate objective – whether that be to spy, to conduct open source reconnaissance, or disrupt energy systems in the event of conflict.

This latest wave of attacks is believed to be the latest assault orchestrated by the Dragonfly hacking group, that has previously been said to have targeted more than 1000 companies in the European and North American energy industry.

One of the techniques being used in the attacks, according to the report, are spear-phishing emails that can help reveal a recipient’s password:

Throughout the spear-phishing campaign, threat actors used email attachments to leverage legitimate Microsoft Office functions to retrieve a document from a remote server using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. (An example of this request is: file[:]///Normal.dotm). As a part of the standard processes executed by Microsoft Word, this request authenticates the client with the server, sending the user’s credential hash to the remote server prior to retrieving the requested file. (Note: It is not necessary for the file to be retrieved for the transfer of credentials to occur.) The threat actors then likely used password-cracking techniques to obtain the plaintext password. Once actors obtain valid credentials, they are able to masquerade as authorized users.

In other attacks, a malicious attacker may send what appears to be a generic contract agreement in the form of a PDF. Although there is no malicious code in the PDF file itself, it prompts the reader to click a link which (via a shortened URL) downloads a malicious file.

To increase the chances that the PDF file is opened, emails and attachments may refer to legitimate CVs or resumés for industrial control systems personnel, or policy documents or invitations designed to entice users into clicking on the attachment.

Moving away from email, organisations are also being hit by “watering hole” attacks where legitimate websites have been compromised to contain malicious code. The DHS’s report says that approximately half of the known watering holes are “trade publications and informational websites related to process control, ICS, or critical infrastructure.”

Much more detail, including indicators of compromise, filenames used in the attacks, and MD5 hashes, can be found in the alert published on US-CERT.


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Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway

source Daily Mail

source  YouTube

source  Civil Engineering and Roads in Limerick – Roadbridge


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Alphabet will build a futuristic city within the city of Toronto


Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs will develop a futuristic, billion-dollar community along a sizable swathe of Toronto's waterfront.

On Wednesday, the City of Toronto and Sidewalk Labs  — which is the urban innovation arm of Google's parent company Alphabet — announced a partnership to radically re-imagine 800 acres of the city's largely vacant, post-industrial Eastern Waterfront, and turn it into a tech-integrated neighborhood called Quayside. 

Sidewalk Labs released a 196-page document brimming with the company's extensive ideas, including high-speed ferries, parks that can be adapted to the seasons, and robotic waste removal vehicles.

Sidewalk Lab's plan to fuse smart urban planning with technology is still just a visionary document, but if realized, would likely benefit both the company and Toronto. Sidewalk Labs doesn't get any ownership of the neighborhood, but gets a massive slab of land to deploy its innovative urban experiment. Meanwhile, Toronto will at minimum get a lot of help transforming an apparently neglected area of its waterfront into livable, revitalized land. 

Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, seems to like this idea.

Williamsburg before urban renewal

"The new technologies that emerge from the Quayside have the potential to improve city living — making housing more affordable and public transit more convenient for Canadians and their families," Trudeau said in a statement.   

The company offered ideas about what the urban experiment might look like. These aren't just attractive conceptual drawings, but based upon real-life examples of urban renewal. As shown in the images below, Sidewalk Labs shows the transformation of a dreary-looking Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn into a bustling and desirable community — which, it should be noted, the two-year old company was not responsible for.

Williamsburg after renewal.

What renewed Williamsburg lacks, however, is a deep tech infusion into its urban space. For Quayside, Sidewalk Labs plans to fill the community with a diversity of sensors and cameras to collect information about pedestrian and vehicle flows, pollution, and the condition of infrastructure. 

This brings to mind blatant privacy issues, but in its document, Sidewalk Labs acknowledges this concern. To temper these worries, the company claims it would only transmit "metrics," as opposed to actual video footage.  

Other futuristic ideas include self-driving taxi bots, which can be hailed by an app. The company also suggested self-driving buses.

There's a lot can that can be done on 800 acres of mostly undeveloped land, but Sidewalk Labs is seeking Toronto's input before embarking on its techno-futuristic plans. The company's first town hall event with the Toronto community will be held on Nov. 1. Community members may give a thumbs up for subterranean robotic trash transport, but a thumbs down on data-collecting cameras.

WATCH: A flying taxi has taken to the skies for the first time



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Worlds First Modular Building Code Developed in Australia


Modular building makes a lot of sense: build repetitive structures in a controlled, factory-like setting and transport to the project site and assemble.  It should be a more efficient and less expensive way to construct a building, but the truth is, its a lot harder than it looks.  Theres also no written standard for doing it.



Contractors and developers in Brooklyn, New York figured out how difficult modular construction can be the hard way when they began developing 461 Dean Street, the worlds tallest modular building, starting in December of 2012.  Originally scheduled to be complete by the end of 2014, it was not actually finished until late 2016 after a series of issues, including water leaks.


According to the Urban Developer, a partnership between Monash University, the Victorian Government, Engineers Australia and other industry groups have developed the worlds first building code for modular construction. The Victorian Modular Code of Construction Handbook, as its called, will attempt to address quality control and improve safety.


The Handbook was sent out in May of 2017 for public comment and the final document has only been released to a small number of people so far, through hard copy and USB.  A new edition is scheduled to be released in 2018 and the group prefabAUS will be updating the document, as needed, in the future. 


Although it wont immediately affect American construction projects, it could certainly be used as a guide or a learning document that could be adapted to American standards. Its important for law makers and code reviewers from around the world to take notice of how other countries are handling new and developing construction techniques.

Full story: The Worlds First Building Code For Modular Construction Created In Victoria | The Urban Developer





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New York City to Require 40 Hours of Training for All Construction Workers

October 20, 2017 /Shane Hedmond


Construction Safety is talked about constantly.   There are many construction companies that take it very seriously. There are also many that don’t. All will say it’s their top priority.

So what can a city do that’s facing regular worker deaths and increases in workplace injuries? New York City has decided to require extensive safety training for all of the 185,000 construction workers in the city.


source Crain's New York Business
edited by kcontents


After worker injuries increased from 526 to 622 over the previous year, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio recently approved a new law, Int-1447, which will require workers to receive a minimum of 10 hours of safety training by March 1, 2018 and an additional 30-45 hours of training by December 1, 2018.  Of the additional hours, 8 must consist of “safeguarding against the dangers posed by falling workers and objects.” Periodic refresher courses will also be required. If found not in compliance, construction companies can be fined up to $25,000.



Even though all sides agree that something must be done to reduce construction injuries and deaths, opponents of this new law argued that it gives union shops an unfair advantage, because apprenticeship training is being treated the same as safety training.  The Real Estate Board of New York also issued a recent statement, saying:


“We share the goal of the Mayor and the City Council to improve safety at every construction site.  The latest version of the legislation is an improvement. However, it fails to address basic questions like ensuring there will be sufficient training providers or how workers without an on-going relationship with a contractor will pay for and obtain training.   Unfortunately, the legislation continues to claim union apprenticeship training is the same as safety training.   This legislation runs the risk of putting tens of thousands of construction workers on the unemployment line.  We will continue to advocate that the City put in place a regime that will actually improve construction safety without depriving City residents the opportunity to access construction jobs that have historically served as a path to the middle class.”


Although New York City is allocating $5 million for this new initiative, it’s true that some upfront cost will fall to employers.  But is it worth fighting over?


A legitimate challenge is that the safety courses, even if online, must be actively proctored by the person responsible for conducting the training.  That will limit the amount of workers who are able to be trained.


OSHA standards already require active training for many tasks, so all construction companies should have a safety training structure in place.  The OSHA 10 training course is less than $100 online and the OSHA 30 course is less than $200 online, without the active proctor.  I recently finished an online OSHA 30 training course and, even though it’s supposed to be aimed at construction supervisors, it’s all information that EVERY SINGLE construction worker should know and be aware of.


Any upfront cost will surely be rewarded on the back end with safer site conditions and more aware employees.

What do you think? Should safety training be required other places?

You can read the full 15-page law, Int-1447, by clicking here (Word document download link).




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Night Vision for Self-Driving Cars

By Mark Harris
Posted 18 Oct 2017 |



edited by kcontents


Elon Musk famously thinks that cars can be made to drive themselves without relying on expensive laser-ranging lidars. But while Tesla is moving ahead with one fewer sensor than most self-driving car companies, a new startup wants them to add yet another—an infrared camera.


AdaSky is developing a far infrared thermal camera called Viper that it says can expand the conditions that automated cars will be able to operate in, and improve safety.


“Today’s sensors are not good enough for fully self-driving cars and that’s where we come in,” says Dror Meiri, vice president of business development at AdaSky. “We think infrared (IR) technology can bridge the gap from Level 3 all the way to Levels 4 and 5.”

Level 3 vehicles need a human driver ready to take control at a moment’s notice. Passengers in Level 4 and 5 self-driving cars can read a book or go to sleep. For that to happen, a car’s sensors must be able to provide a detailed and dependable 3D image of the car’s surroundings and other road users.


However, existing sensors all have their weak points. High-resolution lidars struggle in rain, fog, and snow. Radars can punch through bad weather but deliver less detailed information, while cameras suffer the same limitations as human eyes when faced with bright sunlight, glare, or nighttime conditions.


Passive infrared vision can help fill in these gaps. It spots differences in the heat emitted by objects in the road ahead. Warm-blooded humans and animals are naturally prominent, while road surfaces stand out from nearby vegetation. Oncoming headlights, direct sunlight, and abrupt lighting changes (which drivers experience when exiting a tunnel) do not wash out the entire scene, as they can for normal cameras.






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World's first 3D-printed bridge opens to cyclists in Netherlands

Crossing printed from 800 layers of concrete could take weight of 40 trucks, designers say

 A cyclist crosses the 3D-printed concrete bike bridge in Gemert. Photograph: Bart Maat/EPA

Dutch officials have toasted the opening of what is being called the world’s first 3D-printed concrete bridge, which is primarily meant to be used by cyclists.

There was applause as officials wearing hard hats rode over the bridge on their bikes at the inauguration in the southeastern town of Gemert on Tuesday.

“The bridge is not very big, but it was rolled out by a printer, which makes it unique,” Theo Salet, from the Eindhoven University of Technology, told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Work on printing the bridge, which has some 800 layers, took about three months after starting in June and it is made of reinforced, pre-stressed concrete, according to the university.

“One of the advantages of printing a bridge is that much less concrete is needed than in the conventional technique in which a mould is filled,” it said on its website. “A printer deposits the concrete only where it is needed.”

The eight-metre (26-ft) bridge spans a water-filled ditch to connect two roads, and in conjunction with the BAM Infra construction company was tested for safety to bear loads of up to two tonnes.

“We are looking to the future,” said the head of BAM, Marinus Schimmel, adding in a statement that his company was constantly “searching for a newer, smarter approach to addressing infrastructure issues and making a significant contribution to improving the mobility and sustainability of our society”.

Building by numbers: how 3D printing is shaking up the construction industry

 Read more

3D printing meant “fewer scarce resources were needed and there was significantly less waste”, he added.

The Netherlands is among countries, with the United States and China, taking a lead in the cutting-edge technology of 3D printing, using computers and robotics to construct objects and structures from scratch.

Last year a Dutch architect unveiled a unique 3D printer with which he hopes to construct an “endless loop” building.

And a Dutch start-up called MX3D has begun printing a stainless steel bridge, of which a third is already completed. The aim is to finish printing by March and lay the bridge over an Amsterdam canal in June.


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