Why Blockchain Is the Future of Renewable Energy
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SunContract is committed to revolutionizing the renewable energy space with its blockchain-powered peer-to-peer energy trading platform. In this article, you can read our interview with Gregor Novak, the co-founder of SunContract.
Novak discusses the latest advancements in the industry, the effects of global energy dynamics, and the ways in which SunContract is enhancing its products with the use of cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and non-fungible tokens.
Explore our conversation to learn how SunContract is leading the energy industry’s innovation at every turn, rather than just taking part in its transformation.
Interview with Mr Gregor Novak, co-founder of SunContract
Can you share any recent developments or milestones SunContract has achieved in the past year?
In 2017, SunContract pioneered the first-ever white paper on a peer-to-peer energy marketplace, setting a global precedent. This initiative was followed by a successful Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for the peer-to-peer energy marketplace, which was completed on August 1, 2017.
On April 1, 2018, we launched the world’s first retail peer-to-peer energy marketplace on a national scale, attracting our initial customer base predominantly from the blockchain community. This early adoption by over a thousand blockchain enthusiasts marked a significant milestone, as they were the pioneers on our platform.
Moving into 2019, SunContract expanded its operations by establishing an office in Estonia. Here, we acquired a license to operate as a cryptocurrency wallet custodian. This strategic move was crucial for our growth and compliance in the evolving digital asset landscape.
In 2021, we took a significant step forward by upgrading our platform to support energy self-sufficient villages. This enhancement reflects our commitment to sustainable and community-driven energy solutions.
Over the past two years, we have made substantial progress in expanding our services. We obtained an energy license and launched the energy marketplace in Croatia, while also laying the groundwork for operations in Estonia. Furthermore, we established an office in Malta to align with the upcoming Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA), a new European regulatory framework set to be applicable from December 2023. Compliance with MiCA is crucial for our expansion, as it enables us to adopt and extend this regulation across European countries once we secure the requisite license in Malta.
How have global energy trends in 2023 and early 2024 impacted SunContract’s strategy and operations?
The global energy trends during 2023 and early 2024 have positively influenced SunContract’s strategy and operations. With an increasing demand for lower energy consumption, our services are more relevant than ever. We are committed to supporting this shift, offering innovative solutions that enable communities to autonomously master their energy needs. These trends align well with our pioneering role in the industry, reinforcing our commitment to supporting the global transition to green energy.
What new technologies or innovations is SunContract exploring or planning to integrate into its services?
SunContract is continually evolving, with a keen focus on integrating advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning. These technologies play a crucial role in our backend services. Our system heavily relies on predictive analytics for various energy production sources like solar, hydro, and wind, as well as for consumption patterns and energy management.
We are deeply engaged in enhancing these predictive capabilities, which are fundamental to our operations. However, our next significant stride in peer-to-peer energy management involves embracing blockchain innovations, particularly non-fungible tokens (NFTs). While NFTs are not a novel concept, their application in the energy sector presents a unique opportunity.
We plan to utilize the ERC-721 token standard to issue NFTs, each representing real world solar panels. These tokens will be tradeable on the new SunContract NFT marketplace. This initiative marks a significant step in our journey to revolutionize the energy sector with cutting-edge technology and adding value to each solar panel in a soalr farms, which become globally easy accacable and liquid.
Are there any new markets or regions that SunContract is targeting for expansion in 2024?
Absolutely, SunContract is actively expanding into new markets. We have established companies and acquired energy licenses in Estonia and Croatia. In these markets, we are initiating the rollout of our peer-to-peer energy services and exploring the integration of NFT technologies.
SunContract is also exploring opportunities in various global markets. We have recently begun to investigate the potential in the Japanese market. Our future plans include not only broadening our reach in Europe but also considering expansion into other international regions. This strategic approach reflects our commitment to global growth and the adaptation of our innovative energy solutions to diverse markets.
What are the biggest regulatory challenges facing SunContract, and how is the company addressing them?
SunContract must adhere to both local and global regulations. This means we consistently comply with varying energy regulations, which differ from country to country. Additionally, as SunContract has to comply beside an energy also to crypto regulation utilizing blockchain and other crypto assets.
Currently, in the European Union, this is predominantly governed by the Markets in Crypto-Assets regulation (MiCA), which is set to be enforced from December 23 of this year. SunContract is actively working to acquire all necessary licenses for EU countries. As we consider new markets, such as Japan or others we may enter, our approach is always to thoroughly understand and comply with their specific regulations.
Our commitment to regulatory compliance is unwavering, both in current markets and in any future expansions. We understand the importance of aligning with local and international legal frameworks to ensure the seamless integration and operation of our services globally.
How is SunContract contributing to global sustainability goals, particularly in terms of renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions?
SunContract inherently contributes to global sustainability, particularly aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 7, 11 and 13. Our initiatives and operations are designed to address all three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. Our energy marketplace is a testament to this comprehensive approach.
The core philosophy of SunContract is to foster self-sufficiency and sustainability among individuals, companies, and communities. This ethos is not only in harmony with the UN’s sustainability goals but actively promotes the use of renewable energy and the reduction of carbon emissions. By focusing on these areas, SunContract plays a pivotal role in advancing global efforts towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future, particularly in the realms of clean energy and sustainable cities and communities.
What strategies is SunContract employing to encourage more consumers to adopt solar energy and participate in the energy marketplace?
SunContract is actively engaging with various communities to promote the adoption of renewable energy, particularly solar energy. Our approach includes reaching out to groups that are already inclined towards sustainability and technological innovations, such as blockchain enthusiasts, young professionals, IT communities, and even artistic circles. By targeting these diverse groups, SunContract aims to inspire participation in our energy marketplace. Our goal is to encourage these communities to embrace sustainability and self-sufficiency, fostering a broader acceptance and use of renewable energy sources.
Can you discuss any recent or upcoming partnerships or collaborations that are significant for SunContract?
SunContract is actively collaborating with various EPC companies or solar or heat pump installers. This partnership enables energy installers to utilize SunContract’s services, thereby allowing their customers to engage in peer-to-peer energy trading and other related activities. Our market entry strategies vary across different regions.
For instance, in Japan, we are in discussions with established local companies interested in partnering with SunContract. The aim is to introduce and integrate our innovative services into the Japanese market. Similarly, in the UK, we are in talks with potential partners who have shown interest in collaborating with us.
While we are eager to share more details, formal announcements regarding these partnerships will be made once agreements are finalized. These collaborations are instrumental in expanding our reach and impact in various international markets.
How is SunContract positioning itself in the increasingly competitive renewable energy market?
SunContract differentiates itself in the renewable energy market with its unique and competitive business model. We position ourselves akin to an ‘energy Uber,’ delivering energy services directly to a wide range of consumers. This approach encompasses both individual and business clients, effectively covering both B2C (Business-to-Consumer) and B2B (Business-to-Business) sectors. Our model allows anyone, whether they are private individuals, commercial entities, or industrial organizations, to access and benefit from SunContract’s services. This flexibility and inclusivity are key to our strategy in standing out in the competitive renewable energy landscape.
How is blockchain technology evolving within SunContract’s platform, and what benefits does it bring to your users?
SunContract is fundamentally built on Ethereum blockchain technology, which forms the core of our platform. This technology offers our users unparalleled transparency. They can view all their transactions and activities on the platform, ensuring complete visibility and automation of processes.
The use of blockchain instills a natural trust in the system, as all transactions and mechanisms are securely recorded and verifiable. This aspect is a significant advantage for our users, fostering confidence in our services.
Beyond individual benefits, blockchain technology also enhances community engagement. It allows more stakeholders who resonate with SunContract’s ideals of sustainability and innovative business models to participate. They can support and advocate for SunContract in regions where we are yet to establish our services.
With the integration of blockchain, SunContract has positioned itself as a global player. The addition of an NFT marketplace is set to further this reach, making our services globally accessible. The blockchain’s role in our platform is not just a technological foundation; it’s a gateway to expanding our community and enhancing the user experience on a global scale.
How does SunContract incorporate customer feedback into its service improvements and innovations?
SunContract actively engages with diverse communities on various social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Telegram, Facebook and others to gather customer feedback. This valuable input is then channeled back to our Research and Development (R&D) department. By doing so, we ensure that the feedback is analyzed and utilized effectively to enhance our services and operations.
Our community plays a pivotal role in our continuous improvement process. They are not only the best judges of our current services but also a rich source of ideas for new offerings. Additionally, the community is instrumental in testing new services, providing real-world insights that guide our innovation efforts. This collaborative approach with our users is fundamental to SunContract, as it helps us to tailor our services to meet the evolving needs and preferences of our customers.
Can you describe how SunContract’s P2P energy trading marketplace has evolved over the past year, and what are the key benefits it offers to consumers and energy producers?
The SunContract peer-to-peer (P2P) energy marketplace has seen remarkable growth since its inception on a national scale in Slovenia in 2018. Starting modestly, it has expanded significantly each year. Currently, the marketplace boasts about 20 million EUR in revenue and continues to grow rapidly. This growth is largely due to the tangible benefits recognized by our customers.
One of the key advantages of our marketplace is the elimination of intermediaries. This aspect results in consumers generally paying lower prices compared to those offered by traditional utility providers. On the other hand, energy producers gain more value from their output. They enjoy greater flexibility, having the option to either use the energy themselves, share it with relatives, or sell it at better prices on the marketplace.
This flexibility is a significant benefit for both consumers and producers, empowering them to take control of their energy usage and sales. This empowerment is a primary reason our users appreciate our services, and it is a driving force behind the market’s growth.
How is the SNC token currently being utilized within the SunContract platform, and are there any new functionalities or uses for the token that you’re planning to introduce?
The SNC token is the foundational token of the SunContract platform, playing a vital role in all our transactions. It is a pure utility token, essential for the functionality of our system, and does not represent any security or commodity asset. This distinction is crucial for our users to understand.
As SunContract expands geographically into new markets, the introduction of new services and the influx of new customers to our energy platform naturally increase the utility of the SNC token. This expansion is a significant driver of the token’s economics, can be checked by performance metrics like liquidity and market value, observable on platforms like CoinMarketCap and other similar aggregation portals.
Regarding new functionalities, we are continuously introducing new energy services that rely on utility of SNC token, reinforcing its status as our core utility token. A prime example is our energy marketplace, where transactions for NFTs, particularly those representing solar panels, are conducted using SNC tokens only. This ensures that the SNC token remains integral to SunContract’s ecosystem, supporting all our services, from existing peer-to-peer operations to the upcoming NFT marketplace and other services we plan to launch, possibly within this year.
Given the fluctuating nature of cryptocurrency markets, how does SunContract ensure stability and reliability in the valuation and use of the SNC token for energy trading?
Our SNC token, being listed on global exchanges, is subject to market fluctuations, much like any other cryptocurrency. Its value is influenced by demand and response patterns, as well as broader market trends led by major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. However, when it comes to the stability and reliability of using the SNC token for peer-to-peer energy trading, we have implemented specific measures.
In the design of our peer-to-peer energy marketplace, we’ve ensured that the services and daily settlements are not affected by the SNC token’s volatility. This means that for customers using the SNC token to pay their energy bills, exposure to its volatility is a choice rather than a necessity. For those who opt not to hold SNC tokens, the fluctuations have no impact on their energy settlements conducted on our platform.
Therefore, while the SNC token’s value may fluctuate in the wider market, its usage for daily energy trading settlements on our platform remains unaffected, ensuring stability and reliability for our users in this specific context.
Are there any new features or expansions planned for the P2P energy trading marketplace in 2024?
Certainly, SunContract is actively pursuing expansion in 2024. We have recently entered the Croatian market, which marks the extension of our peer-to-peer energy trading marketplace into a new EU jurisdiction. This expansion is initially focused on the Croatian market for 2024.
Moreover, we are planning to introduce our peer-to-peer energy marketplace services in Estonia, potentially later in the year. This expansion strategy reflects our commitment to broadening our reach within the EU and offering our innovative energy trading solutions to a wider audience.
How does SunContract’s platform facilitate the integration of various renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydro, into the P2P marketplace?
Since its inception, the SunContract platform has been designed to support a diverse range of renewable energy sources, including solar, hydro, and cogeneration or combined heat and power with high efficiency (CHP), as exemplified in Slovenia. Our platform employs advanced AI services to accurately predict the output from these various renewable sources, making them compatible and efficient for integration into our energy marketplace.
Importantly, SunContract remains committed exclusively to renewable energy sources. We do not venture into other forms of energy, staying true to our mission of promoting and facilitating sustainable and environmentally friendly energy solutions through our peer-to-peer energy marketplace.
How has user experience been enhanced in the P2P energy trading marketplace, especially for those new to using blockchain technology?
In enhancing user experience on the SunContract platform, we’ve adopted a dual-level approach. The first level is designed for simplicity, catering to users who may not have any prior knowledge about blockchain and crypto assets. For these users, the platform is straightforward, enabling them to engage in energy trading without needing to understand the complexities of blockchain technology.
On the other hand, for more advanced or crypto-aware users, we offer the ability to delve deeper into blockchain functionalities. We’ve integrated a Blockchain Explorer within the SunContract platform, complete with a forum where these users can view and trace all their crypto transactions on the platform.
Our goal is to maintain simplicity for the general population, who are the primary energy consumers, while also providing advanced features for users who wish to explore more in-depth blockchain capabilities. This approach ensures that the platform is accessible and user-friendly for all, regardless of their experience with blockchain technology.
Can you share more details about the upcoming NFT marketplace? How will it integrate with the existing P2P energy trading platform?
The upcoming NFT marketplace on SunContract will offer NFTs that NFTs represent already-built and fully-functional solar panel’s digital ownership without physical installation. These NFTs will have a lifetime expectancy of up to 15 years, based on issuer data. This marketplace will be fully supported and integrated with our existing P2P-energy marketplace, which forms the foundation of SunContract’s operations. All transactions involving the solar panels represented by these NFTs will be conducted through our P2P energy marketplace.
There’s a symbiotic relationship between the NFT marketplace and our P2P platform. The NFT marketplace opens up the opportunity for users globally to create their Personal Power Plant (PPP) by purchasing one or multiple NFTs. If a user resides in a country where SunContract’s P2P services are available, they can directly utilize the energy from their PPP.
For users outside SunContract’s P2P operational regions, while they can’t directly consume the energy from their NFT-represented solar panels, they can still master their PPP. The energy generated is sold on the SunContract’s P2P marketplace in the operating country, with the proceeds awarded to the user in the form of SNC tokens. These tokens can be saved in the user’s personal wallet on the platform and can be used or withdrawn as desired.
This integration not only provides a novel way to engage with renewable energy but also bridges the gap between traditional energy trading and the evolving world of digital assets. It solves the limitation of the users, regarles of personal solar potential infrastructure or country of inhabitance, to be involved, support and profit from the green energy transition
How will the introduction of NFTs impact the way energy assets are owned, traded, and managed on the SunContract platform?
The introduction of NFTs is poised to significantly revolutionize the ownership, trading, and mastering of virtual energy assets on the SunContract platform. By tokenizing solar panels into NFTs, we are enabling these assets to be traded globally, which is a substantial shift from traditional models. This digital representation not only makes solar panels more flexible and accessible but also introduces tokenized form of it which is liquid by default.
Customers will have the freedom to easily buy or sell these NFTs, allowing them to expand or reduce their PPP as needed. This represents a major transformation in the renewable energy industry, as it accelerates the adoption of renewable sources on a global scale. Until now, many individuals worldwide have been unable to participate in the green transition. With NFTs, entering and exiting the renewable energy market becomes significantly more straightforward, offering a simplified method for anyone to buy or sell these digital assets.
Overall, the integration of NFTs into the SunContract platform is set to make renewable energy more accessible, flexible, and user-friendly, enhancing the appeal and practicality of green energy investment for a global audience.
What is your vision for SunContract in the next five years, and what key milestones are you aiming to achieve?
Looking ahead, I envision a very bright and promising future for SunContract, true to our sunny namesake. Our primary goal is to become a global energy marketplace (GEM), expanding into various markets worldwide. This expansion aligns with our initial vision and will build upon our current offerings. Currently, we have a thriving P2P energy marketplace, and we plan to introduce additional energy services supporting sustainability and self-sufficiency.
Over the next five to seven years, I believe SunContract has the potential to achieve significant growth, success, and added valuees for our communities. One of our key milestones is to establish SunContract as a ‘unicorn’ in the industry.
Conclusion: changing the landscape of renewable energy.
As we come to an end of our discussion with Mr. Gregor Novak, it is evident that SunContract is actively changing the landscape of renewable energy.
SunContract offers a promising look into a future where everyone will have access to clean, affordable, and sustainable power as it works toward realizing its goal of establishing a global energy marketplace.