Energy Economy

11 Dec 2020

Blockchain, Cybersecurity Focus in NAESB Digital Technology Standards

11 Dec 2020  by   

The North American Energy Standards Boards (NAESB) is to continue to focus on standards development to support blockchain and more generally cybersecurity.

The decision made by the NAESB Board of Directors follows the approval of a report on digitalisation in the energy sector addressing distributed ledger technology, cybersecurity and other digital technologies being implemented in the sector.

The report identified distributed ledger technology as an emerging high interest and high value area for standards development within NAESB. Overall, it was agreed that, while caution should be used with immature and developing technologies, it is important that NAESB remain active in the development of supportive standards and continue involvement as the energy industry continues to adopt applications for the technology.

Many potential benefits of the technology have been identified, including improved cybersecurity, increased transparency and efficiency and a reduction in the operational and administrative costs of supporting transactional processes.

There was also recognition that standards are emerging in other markets, including the financial sector, and that the energy industry would benefit from defining how the technology is standardised for its unique transactions.

Other recommendations in the report are that NAESB should explore the potential for the development of standards that support the use of distributed ledger technology for transactions related to distributed energy resources. Moreover, NAESB should continue to monitor emerging standards development efforts within the energy industry to ensure that the organisation does not undertake duplicative efforts of others and coordinates its standards development where appropriate.

Blockchain gas trading standards

The NAESB has been working on blockchain standards since 2018. In July, the Board approved an initial set of standards to enable the natural gas industry to conduct trades under an NAESB gas sale and purchase contract utilising distributed ledger technologies. Their aim is to add efficiency to the existing accounting and reconciliation of natural gas trades by replacing manual processes with automated executions through the use of blockchain.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), one of the movers behind the standards, had reported that gas supply invoice reconciliation was taking on average 21 days. TVA is collaborating with ExxonMobil to pilot the standards to determine the efficiencies that can be gained and other requirements needed to support a uniform implementation of the technology by the industry.

In addition to the gas market standards, NAESB is currently undertaking standards development efforts to support distributed ledger technology in the wholesale and retail electric markets.

Other technologies and areas reviewed in the report include cloud computing, deployable shareware, 5G, energy usage data, data governance requirements, renewable energy certificate tracking, Internet of Things and data analytics.

Moving forward, the NAESB’s Digital Committee says it will continue to explore new technologies and areas related to digital technology so that the organisation can support the transition to more digitalized energy markets.

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