The US retail giant Walmart has a patent for developing an on-demand electrical grid that would be powered by bitcoin or any other virtual currency. The company initially tried to obtain the patent in December 2017, right as the crypto craze reached its peak and has been recently rewarded with it by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The system will allow to increase the efficiency of energy consumption as well as regulate demand on an electrical grid, using a public distributed ledger. Even though it is aimed at companies, the idea is to use blockchain technology to power residential households.
The official document explains that “Each unit of cryptocurrency may represent a unit or a portion of a unit of energy. For example, if 1 cryptocurrency unit is set to be equivalent to 1 kWh, the provider interface module 131 may receive a capped total amount of cryptocurrency of 800 for a month to spend on purchasing 800 kWh of electricity.“
Each crypto-energy transaction would be recorded on the blockchain, which would allow energy providers to allocate an exact amount of electricity that the household or company needs, based on historical data. If an individual electronic device ends up using more energy that prepaid for, another device within the network would be able to share the allocated cryptocurrency, to ensure the first device remains functional.
The patent goes on to explain that, “Currently, energy providers deliver energy to locations that inefficiently use the energy, which leads to increased energy costs for consumers. The increased costs result from various appliances and devices that consume energy at higher levels than the appliance or device may actually need to function or perform certain tasks. Smart appliances and devices are now available to consumers that can operate more energy efficiently, but still consume more energy than needed or economically practical.“
If developed to reach the end-users, the technology could prove to be the best way to bridge the gap between energy provided and energy actually consumed. This imbalance has led to increasing electricity costs and prices on a global scale.
This is not the first effort by Walmart to utilize the budding blockchain technology. The company has also applied for patents to integrate distributed ledger into its supply chain and package tracking, as it claimed blockchain enabled Walmart to shorten the time it took to track produce from six days to two seconds.
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I have been following the crypto markets since mid 2017, just in time to witness the incredible surge of the digital asset industry. Fascinated by the potential of blockchain technology I’ve started to dig deeper and that’s how I ended up meeting the Toshi Times team. I hold a Political Science degree, therefore the crypto regulation development is particularly interesting for me. I’m also heavily involved with music, running my own label, a YouTube channel and working with distribution. People call blockchain the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and I believe it will change our daily lives in the coming years and we will have the front row seats to witness it.