More than 80 energy experts, coders and product designers from across Southeast Asia gathered in Bangkok today for the Smart Energy Hackathon, a 30-hour competition that aims to foster the development of new digital energy solutions such as public blockchains for the provision of PV generation data.
The participants are competing for $10,000 in prize money, in an event that aims to “transform the energy game in Southeast Asia,” according to an emailed statement. Their work will focus on a range of innovative digital energy solutions, touching on everything from big data and artificial intelligence to blockchain technology and the Internet of Things. All winnings will be distributed in the form of cryptocurrency.
The competition — co-organized by German development agency GIZ, TechGrind, CalCEF/New Energy Nexus, Chulalongkorn University Innovation Hub (CU) and Knowledge Xchange for Innovation (KX) — is designed to produce ideas that could potentially be turned into new ventures. Sponsors include state-owned Thai utility PTT and Spanish PV manufacturer Blue Solar Energy.
The participating hackers are working in teams on a range of digital energy solutions, for applications that could be used for everything from smart homes and electric vehicles to grid-storage technologies. One challenge, sponsored by Thailand’s Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA), is designed to facilitate greater rooftop PV deployment in the face of low public awareness of the benefits of solar. It has asked participants to create an application that educates homeowners about the reasons to install PV modules on their rooftops, with a focus on economic benefits and safety concerns.
Another challenge focuses on the development of public blockchains to record solar generation data, which investors and PV developers can use to monitor equipment and support financial agreements. Teams have been challenged to create a program that can record such data in accordance with international standards, and then provide that information in a block explorer or easily decrypted form.
Renewables developer Engie, also a sponsor of the Smart Energy Hackathon, is backing another challenge to develop software solutions for microgrids and minigrids. The French company has challenged participants to create a platform that would allow microgrid users to share data with developers.
“Climate change is likely to be decided in Southeast Asia,” said Thomas Chrometzka, director of renewable energy for GIZ Thailand. “We are turning this challenge into an opportunity by developing an ecosystem that produces digital smart energy solutions to help overcome the climate crisis.”
The Smart Energy Hackathon also marks the official launch of the New Energy Nexus Southeast Asia (Nexus SEA) program, an initiative that promotes energy entrepreneurship and investment throughout Southeast Asia.
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