Interview with David Cohen

 Founder and CEO, Taekion

“The use of blockchain can increase the reliability and resilience of the electric grid.”

A blockchain expert, David Cohen is currently the founder and chief executive officer of Taekion, a blockchain-based cybersecurity company. Prior to this, Cohen was co-founder and chief executive officer of Infotility where he pioneered the ‘Grid Edge’ and unlocked a huge smart grid market. At Infotility, he also developed InfoNowTM, the industry’s first web-based automated energy payment network. At Infotility, he also pioneered the development of GridAgentsTM, the smart grid industry’s first artificial intelligence-based platform. Cohen is an early founding member of Hedera Hashgraph, a distributed ledger technology and advises several crypto currency blockchain ventures including Wireline.io, FarmaTrust, Money Token, WePower, Patron, Money Token and Banyan Infrastructure.

Renewable Watch had a brief conversation with Cohen and asked him about the use cases and benefits of blockchain technology in the renewable energy sector. He also talked about the regulatory challenges blockchain companies have to deal with and his overall experience with smart grid technologies…

How is WePower using blockchain technology in the renewable energy sector?

WePower and others are using blockchain to currently support the financing and procurement of renewable energy projects.  Blockchain is also being used to tokenise energy so that users can invest in projects and receive energy credits (tokens) from the projects that can be bought and sold to increase liquidity.

What are the benefits of using blockchain in this sector?

The main benefits are to diversify investments in renewable energy projects as well as increase the confidence of investors since the entire audit trail of investment criteria resides on an immutable blockchain.  Other benefits include decentralising the process of investment in projects and opening up more opportunities for investors.  Finally, blockchain opens up many opportunities to create innovative projects such as virtual net metering, peer-to-peer energy trading, community solar, and integration of smart grid projects that include energy storage and other technologies. The use of blockchain can therefore increase reliability and resilience of the electric grid.

What are the regulatory challenges blockchain companies have to deal with?

Regulatory challenges are mainly due to the fact that regulations at the local, state and national levels have differing requirements regarding how energy transactions are managed.  This includes net metering, community solar, permitting, etc.  A more uniform regulatory code around these areas would greatly reduce the “soft costs” involved in financing and operating renewable energy projects.  I have been working with companies in the industry on many of these aspects over my career and the US Department of Energy has been funding projects to address this in the past 10 years.

What has been your experience with GridEdge?   

I pioneered many of the GridEdge concepts that are popular today such as automated energy transactions, demand response, and artificial intelligence (AI)-based smart grid software to enable peer-to-peer energy trading, microgrids, and other technologies including the GridAgents™ platform that I built as Founder and CEO of Infotility.

GridEdge is part of an overall trend to decentralise energy production at more local levels in order to provide higher grid reliability using advanced communications technologies as well as blockchain and cybersecurity (which I am working on at Taekion).

GridEdge is the future of electric utilities in terms of more decentralised energy delivery infrastructure. However, the GridEdge will need to integrate and interoperate with the existing centralised transmission and distribution systems as well as clean the centralised power systems in order to be effective.  The GridEdge will benefit greatly from AI, cybersecurity, and blockchain, a concept I call AI-3.0 and something I will be working on for some time to complete the journey I started many years ago.

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