California Agency Backs Green-Energy Pilot Using RSK’s Bitcoin Smart Contracts

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The California Energy Commission, the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency, is funding an experimental market for carbon-credit trading on a public blockchain.

Under a plan announced Friday, digital tokens will be awarded to participating businesses that cut their carbon footprint by powering electric van sharing, said Eduardo Javier Munoz, CEO of EVShare, the startup running the pilot. The credits can then be used to pay for electricity consumption, rides and services.

Mobility-related transactions will be recorded on the RSK blockchain, a smart contract-oriented platform that is similar to Ethereum but runs on top of the Bitcoin network.

The market is part of a $20 million initiative that will track data related to solar panels, energy storage, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure in Bassett, an unincorporated community in Los Angeles County. The commission’s previously disclosed $9 million grant will cover nearly half the cost; Google, the University of California at Los Angeles and others are covering the remaining $11 million, according to EVShare.

Read more: RSK Launches Interoperability Bridge Between Bitcoin and Ethereum

The project aims to digitize carbon credit reporting, create opportunities for businesses to redeem credits and make electric vanpooling cheaper for Bassett residents, Munoz said.

“Today, carbon credit trading is not digitized,” he said. “It’s a very unconventional market … Now it will be easier to hold [credits] and trade them.”

It is rare for enterprise blockchain projects to use public networks, which are auditable by and open to all comers, instead of a private ledger restricted to authorized participants. Rarer still are enterprise experiments tied to Bitcoin; Ethereum has been the platform of choice for most corporates venturing into open-network territory.

The Bassett initiative is the also latest attempt to streamline trading processes for carbon credits using blockchain record-keeping. In July, the InterWork Alliance announced that it was working on blockchain tools to prevent double-spending of carbon credits.

The RSK blockchain will also register transactions between vehicles and solar panels, batteries and chargers. Records of their usage will be stored on-chain with the help of RIF, an identity product developed by RSK Labs, the startup that created the chain. The electric vans will be operated by Green Commuter, an electric vehicle rental company based in Los Angeles.

Phase 1 of the pilot included research and development, business collaboration and participation from the Bassett community. Phase 2, which the companies also announced Friday, will connect 50 houses to the solar grid over the course of two years, Munoz said.

Read more: Carbon Credits Have a Double-Spend Problem. This Microsoft-Backed Project Is Trying to Fix It

Carbon credits permit companies to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Companies with unneeded carbon credits can sell them to other firms that emit more.

EVShare aims to help 1,000 cities transition to a sustainable sharing economy over the next decade. The firm plans to connect solar home-energy systems with shared electric vans operated by Green Commuter. Excess energy is sold to the grid or used by households.

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