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Blockchain & PV - a Game Changer?

October 10, 2022 by
Blockchain & PV - a Game Changer?
GE4A Group B.V., Toralf Nitsch ∞ GE4A Group B.V.

The solar industry faces many challenges

Toralf Nitsch, one of Germany's solar pioneers, talks in an interview with business journalist and communications consultant Prof. Dr. Patrick Peters about the current situation on the market for renewable energies and the development potential of the solar industry, among other things.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Peters: Mr Nitsch, how do you see the current situation on the market? Are the global crises having an impact on renewable energies?

Toralf Nitsch: Of course the current situation is worrying, whether economically, politically or socially. But even if an acute supply crisis is looming, the further development of renewable energies is more important than ever. Photovoltaics in particular is the outstanding energy source of the future. Solar energy is inexhaustible and can de facto cover the entire global energy demand. Millions of solar modules are needed to achieve these goals. Therefore, if we had started earlier with a massive expansion, we would not be facing this situation with Energy Prices getting insane now.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Peters: How is the expansion of solar energy progressing?

Toralf Nitsch: This type of energy generation is evolving all over the world. In China, for example, the addition of photovoltaic capacity in 2020 exceeded the previous year by 60 percent. China wants to become climate-neutral by 2060 and feed at least 25 percent of its entire energy mix from non-fossil energy sources by 2030. In Germany, the EEG 2023 envisaged a PV expansion target of photovoltaic capacity by 2030 from currently about 58.5 gigawatts to 215 GWP by 2030 and to 400 GWP by 2040. At the end of last year 2021, the cumulative installed nominal capacity of photovoltaic systems worldwide exceeded the 1,000 gigawatt mark.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Peters: These are only forecasts for now. Is that realistic?

Toralf Nitsch: We have some challenges to overcome. In addition to real acceptance in politics and society, we need a professional cycle in the solar industry. For example, more modules are needed to drive the expansion forward. Re-use of older or defective solar modules by means of established technologies and measures is the keyword, which makes much more sense than recycling. For the expansion of solar energy, we must ensure that existing modules can be used for as long as possible. And lie that, we can also avoid producing a lot of waste. Our company is is providing here an economically and ecologically viable solution to accompany the energy transition.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Peters: Now the reprocessing of solar modules is not a new invention. To what extent do you see a need for optimisation of the current situation?

Toralf Nitsch: The main point here is re-using instead of recycling. Done correctly, almost 90 percent of all collected modules can be reprocessed for further use. Furthermore, it is equally important that this value chain of the circular economy is made transparent. We see time and again that modules are offered that do not even exist. We want to change that.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Peters: How do you want to do that?

Toralf Nitsch: We rely on modern technologies for transparency and security. Using a blockchain, we connect solar modules with a so-called non-fungible token (NFT) and create a digital twin of the product. This makes it possible to guarantee real traceability and liability about the existence of this module. The owners of the NFT receive real-time information about location, performance, and later also the yield and other essential factors of the solar modules. This is absolutely tamper-proof and can be used worldwide. It is an added value for impact-oriented investors in particular, because they can see live at any time where and how they are doing good by democratising solar energy.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Peters: So you want to digitalise the energy cycle?

Toralf Nitsch: That's right. We are aiming for nothing more and nothing less than the digital revolution of solar energy, and that is just the beginning. Our goal is to connect all renewable energy solutions with digital tokens in the short term, and to build a hardware interface into every solar module in the medium term. It could hardly be easier to show the real performance of renewable energies and to open up broad participation opportunities for industry, investors and users.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Peters: What do you mean by democratisation?

Toralf Nitsch: It's quite simple. Up to now, the market for solar energy has been fragmented and non-transparent. On the one hand, there are hundreds of thousands of privately operated solar plants on the roofs of houses, and on the other hand, there are project and investment companies that offer large-scale plants as financial products to investors. But what happens to the energy generated through self-use, and how are the modules recycled at the end of their first phase of life? This often remains in the dark and makes the good idea intransparent, especially since not everyone has the opportunity to produce solar energy or to invest in it on a large scale. We want to change that by promoting democratisation through our transparent, forgery-proof system and by opening up small-scale access for investors, while generating cheap natural electricity, especially in developing countries, and passing it on directly to the local people.

Prof. Dr. Patrick Peters: That sounds a lot like saving the world, isn't that a bit exaggerated?

Toralf Nitsch: We don't think so at all. We simply want to make a good thing even better within the scope of our possibilities. We want to create awareness and transparency for the possibilities of solar energy without pointing fingers or pure sales interests which has damaged the market over and over again. We therefore rely on understanding and openness of all parties and in each step of the process. Put simply, we aim at the reclamation of sovereignty of the individual.