Blockchain: A Catalyst of Change

Diana Martin Romero, Manager of Blockchain. Digital Innovation Hub, Acciona

Diana Martin Romero, Manager of Blockchain. Digital Innovation Hub, Acciona

At Acciona, we are always on the lookout for transformative technologies. We are in the business of sustainable infrastructure, supplying renewable energy to more than six million homes and building critical urban infrastructure such as mass transport systems, hospitals, and water treatment plants worldwide. In blockchain, we have found a technology that promises to be a catalyst of change for our businesses, and for our relationship with clients.

Certifying the Renewable Origin of Energy

One of the most exciting uses we have for blockchain is to guarantee the renewable origin of the energy we produce. Acciona’s Greenchain platform is an energy traceability tool that allows our customers to track the origin of the power they consume. Given that one electron is very much like another electron, and that all electrons travel down the same transmission networks—whatever their origin— Acciona’s Greenchain platform time stamps all the electrons leaving our renewable energy plants. Because this record is both unique and immutable, we can match the output of our plants to the daily assignments to our clients. Our clients get daily and accumulated monthly data of the energy we have supplied and the origin of that power, including, the location of the plants and a breakdown of renewable energy by source (solar, wind, hydro and so on).

 When contracts and other documents are shared (and where relevant, signed) on blockchain platforms, the scope for future disagreements and litigation ought to diminish dramatically 

We are now testing the integration of social and environmental data on the Greenchain platform. This will allow our clients to measure the impact they create by choosing green energy over carbon-intensive alternatives. We see this as a valuable service, not only as a CSR auditing tool for our clients, but also as a way of getting them to share our commitment to building a more sustainable future.

Singing From the Same Hymn Sheet

Acciona also sees enormous potential for blockchain platforms wherever there is a need for the greater traceability, safety, and transparency in our interaction with clients. Even on construction sites, blockchain can make us more efficient. We are testing the use of a blockchain platform for QR blueprint codes, to ensure that everyone on a project—from the client to the site manager—is working off the same blueprint and with the most up-to-date version of the project’s specs. You can imagine the potential of Acciona’s QR Blueprint when it comes to reducing (costly) mistakes, for engaging with our clients in real time and with complete transparency, and for delivering complex infrastructure projects on time and to budget.

A Powerful Tool for Transparency in Public Procurement

We also see blockchain as a useful tool for public procurement. Any document—bids, contracts, design blueprints, signatures, even the minutes of important meetings—filed to a blockchain distributed network cannot be modified or amended, making it a uniquely useful tool for increasing the transparency and security of public tender processes.

Governments—from the city of Seoul to the regional government of Aragon in Spain—are using blockchain platforms to guarantee the fairness, transparency, and traceability of contracts between government agencies and private contractors.

When contracts and other documents are shared (and where relevant, signed) on blockchain platforms, the scope for future disagreements and litigation ought to diminish dramatically. As a result, Acciona has developed a blockchain platform that it uses for due diligence and contracts with its own suppliers.

We have also pioneered the use of blockchain platforms to preserve and protect bid documents in public tenders. In a 2018 tender to build a motorway in Norway, Acciona filed its bid and supporting documentation to a distributed blockchain ledger, which gave each document a unique timestamp—guaranteeing its immutability.

For the contractor, blockchain platforms for smart contracts guarantee:

• Traceability: a timestamp registering time and date of delivery

• Immutability: once filed, documents cannot be deleted. Documents that are filed with Blockchain IDs cannot be tampered with.

• A shared workspace: documents can be shared between all parties, each change is tracked and receives a new blockchain timestamp.

• Signing, comparing and checking what is signed: contracts can be signed using unique blockchain IDs, and before signing, blockchain can check the documents being signed to make sure that they are identical to the ones that have been agreed upon and have not been altered in any way.

For the public agency, blockchain platforms for smart contracts guarantee:

• Transparency and fairness in the bidding process: as documents cannot be modified or tampered with once they have been filed using blockchain technology.

• An immutable history and data security: blockchain eliminates the risk of forgery of documents.

• Traceability and auditable data generation during the many stages of the procurement process.

• Confidentiality, privacy and integrity: the tender process is traceable, auditable, and supported by tamper-proof documentation.

As the uses and many advantages of blockchain technology are better understood by contractors and public agencies, it will be possible to develop common platforms to allow all parties keep track of documents as they are shared, amended and ultimately, signed.