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Clean Energy Blockchain Pilot Aims to Power 500,000 Homes  

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Clean Energy Blockchain Pilot Aims to Power 500,000 Homes  

By Jennifer Hansen

Blockchain clean energy project Swytch and the Germany-based aggregated energy trading company Energy2market GmbH (e2m) this week announced a pilot program that includes about 3.5Gw of solar, wind, hydro and biogas energy capacity in Germany, which is enough to power over 500,000 homes.

As part of the large-scale pilot, Swytch is testing its first versions of the data flow, blockchain, dashboard, estimators, token allocation models and other key parts of the platform.

Swytch is also entering its token sale. To sign up, visit Swytch.

Swytch is a blockchain-based platform that tracks and verifies the impact of sustainability efforts and actions on the worldwide level of C02 emissions.

For more information on the pilot, we created a short video here.

Swytch leverages smart meter and blockchain technology to reward the companies and people who reduce carbon emissions the most. At the core of the Swytch solution is an open-source “Oracle” that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine how much carbon is being displaced and therefor how many Swytch tokens to award. As a result, producers of renewable energy create Swytch tokens by generating solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy. e2m perceives Swytch’s approach to tokenized incentives in the energy market as particularly attractive to the larger energy producers and traders it serves.

“We firmly believe that blockchain technology can be used to unlock long-term value for Europe’s renewable energy assets,” said Andreas Keil, CEO of Energy2market. “Today, renewable energy represents 32 percent of the total energy market in Germany, but we have a goal of reaching 70 percent by 2050. Government-based incentive programs can only do so much, and a more dynamic option is needed. Additionally, some countries, like Germany, will begin phasing out their incentive programs in the next few years. We need to prepare for the future and identify new subsidy instruments and trading mechanism.”

swytch-carousel

This partnership will allow e2m to gain insight into alternatives to existing incentive programs and leverage blockchain, which has security and immutability, making it an ideal technology to help reshape an industry that relies on timely and accurate data. Additionally, e2m believes that Swytch, as a global incentive program and data source, has the ability to empower governments, cities, corporations and individuals to take a more active role in accelerating the adoption of renewable supply and sustainability programs. A partnership with Swytch will create a competitive advantage as buyers and sellers of energy gain access to higher quality data in addition to an incentive that will be effective across geographic barriers.

“Just as blockchain is applicable to supply chain management and verification of physical assets, it is also beneficial for recording and tracking environmental attributions,” said Evan Caron, co-founder and managing director of Swytch. “When compared to existing programs this will drastically reduce fraud and administrative costs as well as open up incentive mechanisms to residential properties, which are the key to accelerated adoption of renewables. This positions Swytch as a central player in the global grassroots movement to reduce carbon emissions.”

Renewable energy technology will continue to gain market share and assets will become more dispersed. The middlemen between energy consumption and production will be eliminated. Power markets will become decentralized.

But how do we get there? To create these changes, we need improvements in:

  • automated production and consumption tracking
  • validation
  • payments
  • transparency
  • incentives
  • security

These improvements will require a distributed, self-organizing system that reduces friction, routes around regulatory obstacles and connects fractured markets.

Enter blockchain. The distributed nature of blockchain provides an unprecedented level of trust and transparency. This enables businesses to feel confident in transactions that require a high degree of trust. Breeching the security of a central database is one thing – trying to fool a decentralized, global network of databases is almost impossible. The result is a reduced need for middlemen, faster transactions and lower expenses than traditional centralized models.

As an independent trading company operating throughout Europe, e2m specializes in managing and optimizing dynamic portfolios and marketing the flexibility derived from decentralized generation and consumption systems. With a marketed generation capacity of renewable energy of more than 3,500 MW in Germany, e2m is in that region one of the biggest providers of market access services. It has the infrastructure required for marketing flexibility as well as access to all German and to international trading markets. As an international group, e2m has subsidiaries in UK, Poland, Austria, Italy and Scandinavia.

 

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Oil prices surge as OPEC+ extends output cuts into April

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Oil prices surge as OPEC+ extends output cuts into April 1

By Sonali Paul and Koustav Samanta

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Friday, extending gains from the previous session, after OPEC and its allies agreed not to increase supply in April as they await a more substantial recovery in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Brent crude futures for May rose 60 cents, or 0.9%, to $67.34 a barrel at 0337 GMT, and was on track for a near 2% gain in the week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 56 cents, or 0.9%, to $64.39 per barrel.

Both contracts surged more than 4% on Thursday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+, extended oil output curbs into April, with small exemptions to Russia and Kazakhstan.

“It just goes to show how much of a surprise the OPEC+ discipline is,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

“What makes the gain even more impressive is that it comes against a risk-off backdrop and a higher U.S. dollar,” he said.

Oil prices usually fall when the dollar rises as a higher greenback makes oil more expensive for buyers with other currencies.

Investors were surprised that Saudi Arabia had decided to maintain its voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day through April even after oil prices rallied over the past two months.

“An array of factors coalesced to bring the parties together, but the resultant price increase will almost certainly push the parties to change their minds when they meet again on April 1, 2021,” commodity analysts at Citigroup said in a note.

“Whatever its rationale, from a pure market balancing perspective, OPEC itself has indicated that more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil will be required in the market by end-June. That need starts by mid- to late Apr’21, as refinery demand for crude starts growing before escalating through Aug’21.”

Analysts are reviewing their price forecasts to reflect the continued supply restraint by OPEC+ as well as U.S. shale producers, who are holding back spending in order to boost returns to investors.

“Oil prices could rip higher now that a tight market is likely up through the summer. WTI crude at $75 no longer seems outlandish and Brent could easily top $80 by the summer,” OANDA analyst Edward Moya said in a note.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Koustav Samanta in Singapore; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Jane Wardell)

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White House says closely tracking Microsoft’s emergency patch

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White House says closely tracking Microsoft's emergency patch 2

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is closely tracking an emergency patch Microsoft Corp has released, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday, after an unknown hacking group recently broke into organizations using a flaw in the company’s mail server software.

“We are closely tracking Microsoft’s emergency patch for previously unknown vulnerabilities in Exchange Server software and reports of potential compromises of U.S. think tanks and defense industrial base entities,” Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, said on Twitter.

“We encourage network owners to patch ASAP,” he said. His tweet included a link to a notice by Microsoft of the security update. (https://bit.ly/3kLPWJQ)

Microsoft’s near-ubiquitous suite of products has been under scrutiny since the hack of SolarWinds Corp, a Texas-based software firm that served as a springboard for several intrusions across government and the private sector.

In other cases, hackers took advantage of the way customers had set up their Microsoft services to compromise their targets or dive further into affected networks.

Hackers who went after SolarWinds also breached Microsoft itself, accessing and downloading source code – including elements of Exchange, the company’s email and calendaring product.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Jacqueline Wong & Shri Navaratnam)

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EU to extend COVID-19 vaccine export controls as AstraZeneca shipment blocked – sources

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EU to extend COVID-19 vaccine export controls as AstraZeneca shipment blocked - sources 3

By Francesco Guarascio, John Chalmers and Giselda Vagnoni

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is planning to extend its export authorisation scheme for COVID-19 vaccines to the end of June, two EU sources told Reuters on Thursday, as a shipment of AstraZeneca shots from the EU to Australia was blocked.

Extending controls could reignite tensions with countries who rely on shots made in the EU.

Under the scheme, companies must get an authorisation before exporting COVID-19 shots, and may have export requests denied if they do not respect their supply commitments with the EU.

The mechanism was set up at the end of January as a reaction to vaccine makers’ announcements of delays in the deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to the bloc.

It is due to expire at the end of March, but the European Commission wants to extend it through June, the two officials said.

“The Commission will propose its extension into June. And that was greeted by the member states with approval, not necessarily enthusiasm, but there is a feeling that we still need that mechanism,” one senior EU diplomat said.

The second official added that at a meeting with EU diplomats on Wednesday, many countries supported the measure, including heavyweights Germany and France.

The EU Commission was not immediately available for a comment.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has also called for sanctions on companies that do not respect their contractual obligations with the EU.

When the EU’s export control mechanism was introduced in late January it triggered an outcry from importing countries who feared their vaccine supplies might be affected.

On Thursday two separate sources told Reuters the EU blocked a shipment of AstraZeneca’s vaccine destined for Australia after the drug manufacturer failed to meet its EU contract commitments.

The sources said AstraZeneca had requested permission from the Italian government to export some 250,000 doses from its Anagni plant, near Rome.

Australian lawmakers said they were unfazed. Health Minister Greg Hunt said the country had already received its first shipment of the vaccine, which would be enough until a batch being produced domestically by CSL Ltd was completed.

“This is one shipment from one country,” Hunt said in a statement.

“This shipment was not factored into our distribution plan for coming weeks,” he added.

In January, AstraZeneca cut its supplies to the EU in the first quarter to 40 million doses from 90 million foreseen in the contract, and later told EU states it would cut deliveries by another 50% in the second quarter. AstraZeneca later said it was striving to supply missing doses for the second quarter from outside Europe.

Until the decision to bloc the shipment to Australia, the EU had authorised all requests for export since the scheme’s debut on Jan. 30 to Feb. 26, which amounted to 150 requests for millions of shots to 29 countries, including Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Canada, an EU Commission spokeswoman said.

She added, however, that at least one other request was withdrawn by an exporting company. She declined to elaborate.

Export requests mostly concern the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which is manufactured in Belgium. AstraZeneca and Moderna shots have also been exported from the EU.

Since Jan. 30 more than 8 million vaccines were shipped from the EU to Britain, a third EU source said.

Britain has so far prevented the export of AstraZeneca vaccines to the EU, using a UK-first clause in its supply contract with the Anglo-Swedish firm, EU officials have said.

The United States also has regulations that effectively ban vaccine exports, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, told a news conference last week.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio, John Chalmers and Giselda Vagnoni, with additional reporting by Byron Kaye in Sydney; Editing by Toby Chopra and Sonya Hepinstall)

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