Interview with Song Ping, Digital Renaissance
I met with Song Ping in a noisy cafe in Helsinki and we chatted about all manner of things DLT. We had a great discussion with some nice insights that I am able to share with you here. Song was born and raised in Beijing and now resides in Helsinki, Finland, where he works as a Partner and Consultant for Digital Renaissance. He is a trained economist, blockchain, AI expert and e-resident. He has served as a consultant to the Chinese Government, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank, among others. He currently advises Nordic startups with expertise in AI and Blockchain to achieve fast growth in the Chinese market.
Can you tell us a little about Digital Renaissance and your own history in the DLT/Energy world?
Digital Renaissance was founded when I moved to Finland two years ago and ever since we have been up and running. Blockchain and DLT is a globally distributed community, so our mission is to connect the Finnish and Nordic
Do you see (as many others do) that Africa is the next big growth area for energy DLT’S or where is the new area of growth?
I have been mostly working on the Chinese and European energy markets. Africa for me is personally rather a new area, but I do think it’s an untapped market with a massive potential like China was ten years ago when the economy was growing and so was the energy demand. In the future, there will be a lot of demand for the energy system. With the current adoption of renewable energy, Africa has the option to develop clean energy to match the energy demand growth. This new and clean energy system certainly can be benefited by DLT technology to improve the efficiency in the energy market.
If I look at the development of the Chinese energy market, I think the first priority is not about how to supply clean energy, but to just supply the energy. So I would say the first stage for Africa would be getting enough supply of the energy from solar, wind and other clean sources and then later the second stage to improve on the transparency efficiency by use of DLT technology.
When do you see DLT energy market saturation happening particularly in Europe? What are the big steps that we need to take to get there?
The energy community is working on blockchain powered electricity transactions, so it’s basically a community-based energy grid with community-based transactions. You don’t need to have utilities in the middle as intermediaries, so electricity users can sell and buy electricity to/from the neighbors without the need to go through the utilities and this is actually becoming quite a popular concept. No matter if you are on the distributed side or centralized side, I believe that in the future the customer will have more rights to choose how they consume electricity. This concept is called prosumer, the technology already exists, so the proof of concept is already there and it’s just a matter of time for widespread adoption to happen. I think Europe is in a good position because there is an already fragmented electricity market. The technology exists, it will just take determination to do it, and the fragmented market by nature can be a good fit with a decentralized energy system.
Do you see that the large energy giants of today will invest in DLT’s, or is the impetus coming from a different direction?
They’re already investing in it. I think it’s Fortum that have a small team in Finland where they research peer-to-peer DLT based power transactions. They invested in a unified electricity payment solution, so when you have an EV and you drive from Finland through Estonia, France to Switzerland you don’t need to pay in the local currency, instead you’ll pay with one of the tokens. They are already working on how much money they will spend, I don’t know how much for certain, but I do know they have put in some money aside just for R&D purposes.
What are the major policy implementations that need to happen for DLT Energy companies to become mainstream?
I think when you have distributed energy systems, the government needs to regulate more. I can only talk about from a Chinese perspective in my own experience, but in a decentralized energy market powered by DLT, it is an energy system so that you don’t need a massive investment into the electric transmissions grid. So the government’s role in investment in infrastructure will be less important. The Chinese government has taken a role in investing in the industry supply chain. For example, in the solar panel manufacturing space, they just financially support the industry by giving many low-interest loans to Chinese solar manufacturers. This creates even some international trade conflicts because German solar manufacturers feel their competitors in China are getting this unfair support from the Chinese government. This is why Europe has these dumping restrictions on solar panels from China. I would say the government has a direct impact on distributed energy systems and others that support the industry rather than building the utility infrastructure. We talk about IoT companies and sensor companies so it’s not only about infrastructure projects, it is about making this infrastructure smart – I would say the government needs to support more investment in the IoT devices and the sensors.
Do you see any companies with new/innovative strategies for the future currently? Or are the current crops mostly recycling old strategies with minor twists?
I think we’re talking about any company within the space, so that could be anybody from a manufacturer all the way through to empowerment. I know some companies that have done successful ICO’s in this space and there’s one project called WePower – they did a good ICO with the best timing certainly in 2017.
They found an excellent angle to market their concept which is basically community based, so you can purchase their tokens and spend them to then purchase electricity. We need electricity and they have a portfolio of power plants to generate that electricity, so in my interpretation it is like crowdfunding green energy solutions. So far I think they have done a pretty decent job, to come from such a small economy and to achieve such a good scale of operation. I think this could be a lesson for others to learn. No matter how small your project is, you can still achieve your goals on a global scale.