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Innogy Charges New Electric Car Fleet Using Ethereum Blockchain

Innogy SE, a subsidiary of German energy conglomerate RWE, announced that it has launched hundreds of blockchain-powered charging stations for electric cars across Germany through its e-mobility startup venture Share&Charge.

Carsten Stöcker, senior innovation manager at Innogy Innovation Hub, which focuses on the development of digital business solutions, announced on Twitter, “... 100s of EV Charging Assets all over Germany Blockchainified. E2E Product using asset-backed Crypto-EURO for payments,” and added that now there is “seamless & affordable Electric Vehicle Charging on Ethereum BlockChain.”

The new e-mobility solution allows owners of electric cars to charge their vehicles at any of the new charging stations set up by innogy Innovation Hub’s startup venture Share&Charge, as well as already existing charging points by making digital payments in euros using the Share&Charge app.

This app is the world’s first e-mobility community platform that uses blockchain technology. Launched by the Germany-based startup Share&Charge, which will soon operate independently under its new name, “Motionwerk,” the platform creates a new sharing economy service for the e-mobility sector by leveraging the public Ethereum blockchain as a transaction layer.

Share&Charge uses three different types of smart contracts running on the Ethereum blockchain. It deploys LibManager, which allows contracts to hold references to other contracts so that existing contracts can be updated in case of bugs or required fixes. It also uses MobilityToken, a smart contract to hold balances and enforce the regulatory framework. And, finally, it also utilizes ChargingPoles, a registry of all charging poles, which also on-boards the logic required to process start/stop operations at the charging stations.

Payments for charging electric vehicles are made using Mobility Tokens, which are euro-backed digital tokens that can be acquired through the Share&Charge app and is available for both Android and iOS smartphone users.

E-mobility drivers now have a much wider network of charging stations that can easily be found and paid for using the app, thereby reducing the chance of a flat battery. Furthermore, businesses and individuals who own charging stations can now make them available to e-mobility drivers and decide on the rates they want to charge for providing electricity, as well as parking spaces at the charging stations, and thus create an entirely new sharing economy surrounding the e-mobility sector.

Dietrich Sümmermann, co-founder of Share&Charge, believes that the car of the future will be electric, autonomous and part of the wider sharing economy. His goal is to give individuals and companies the right instruments that will enable them to play a role in the future of private mobility.

“The entire market structure of the automotive industry and the associated energy industries is in a period of change. While petrol-driven cars still require filling stations, soon, infrastructure monopolies of this kind will no longer be necessary. Hundreds of plug-in units can undertake this task instead. And they won’t [be] available at a few selected locations, but on a decentralized basis with lots of individual units,” said Sümmermann in a statement.

Stöcker is proud of what innogy and Share&Charge have achieved. “With the help of blockchain technology, Share&Charge is bringing a sense of democracy to e-charging points. In addition to this, the startup has brought hundreds of innogy charging points to the blockchain and has, therefore, become the first company worldwide to “blockchainify” charging points all over the country,” he said.

Innogy Innovation Hub chose the Ethereum blockchain over developing its own proprietary blockchain for the project. As Stöcker told Bitcoin Magazine: “We believe in open blockchain platforms with a strong, diverse and enthusiastic ecosystem. These ecosystems deliver exponential network effects driving innovative technology, business and personal solutions. Therefore, Ethereum is the one and only natural choice for us.”

The Future of Private Transport

The launch of the new blockchain-powered electric-vehicle charging stations is a step closer to Carsten Stöcker’s and his colleague Thomas Birr’s vision of the future of transport, which they outlined in a publication on the World Economic Forum website.  

Stöcker and Birr envision a future where cities will be filled with fleets of autonomous electric vehicles. Their new app will help someone looking for private transport to discover available vehicles and then agree electronically on the terms and conditions including the rental fee with the vehicle owner. The agreement is then coded into a smart contract that automatically charges the driver and pays the vehicle owner directly upon completion of the journey.

This process would create an environmentally friendly, decentralized sharing economy for the private transport sector, which would increase the efficiency of private transport as well as reduce congestion as fewer cars would be populating the cities.

Bitcoin Magazine asked Stöcker when he believes his and Birr’s vision of the future of transport will become a present-day reality. “Tesla is laying the foundation for P2P car sharing of autonomous and electric vehicles already now. I expect that this service will be available for level 2–3 autonomous driving pretty soon. Maybe next year. First FAVES with level 4 in 2020. At this time blockchain [technology] will be mature enough to power a transaction layer for mobility. This will happen in cities that are aiming for technology leadership.”

Alex Lielacher

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