Client
Duke Energy
Year

2019

Case Study

Intro

The P2P Blockchain enabled Energy Trading platform was created to address the potential need for a new market of energy producers and buyers. The goal of the project was to provide a platform that gave the ability for users to buy and sell energy. The business would own the platform and in conjunction with the grid, take a percentage of the profit off of each sale.

What happened

The team created a working prototype that allowed users to research the P2P energy trading market, buy and sell energy. My goal as a designer was to create an easy to use interface that offered the most essential information first with the ability to dive deep if desired. After research I added some additional features that were not required such as the ability to auto-sell excess energy when a certain threshold was hit.

Conclusion

The prototype proved blockchain was a viable security solution when working with energy. The energy sector has been slow to adopt new technology but with the advent of blockchain security, this type solution could be applied to other projects that have high security needs.

The prototype also proved that a new income stream could be established for the business. While the current market doesn’t have large enough base to warrant the investment, the project will be re-visited in the future once the market has had time to grow.

Designing an

Energy Trading Platform

Combined With

Blockchain Technology

Overview

The goal of this project was to tap into the emerging market of private energy producers.

With the advent of affordable green technology and renewable energy, there are an increasing number of options for private individuals to produce their own energy. In many cases, these individuals are producing excess energy that could be sold to other consumers.

On the commercial side, when an energy company spins up a reactor due to a spike in energy demand, estimates must be made on the up time and sometimes energy is over produced. These companies could then sell the excess energy on the open market with our solution.

Is blockchain a viable security technology?

Blockchain has huge potential as a new security solution. Part of this prototype was to prove out this technology.

Target Audience
  • Commercial Energy Companies
  • Small Businesses
  • Home Owners
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • Energy Consumers
Scope and Constraints
  • 3 months to deliver prototype
  • Must incorporate blockchain technology
  • Prototype must be a Web App or Cross Platform
  • Intuitive Interface
Team Roles
  • Two Frontend Developers
  • One Backend Developer
  • One Blockchain Developer
  • One UX Designer
Tools and Technology
  • Vue JS
  • Vue Material Components
  • Sketch
  • Zeplin
  • Lots of coffee

Process and what I did

At first I started with researching what was available on the market to determine if this type of solution already existed. After conducting user interviews with engineers and the business, I discovered that a similar solution already existed within the company. However, this internal solution was not available to the public nor were there any plans to adapt it for public consumption. This type of approach reminded me about how the stock market has mutual funds that handle trades for their clients versus something like a trading platform you can access via an app to make your own trades. Stock brokers have access to much more information than a private consumer could consume in a short amount of time. I based my design off of financial platforms and apps that offered the public a way to make their own trades.

From there I began conducting whiteboarding sessions to come up with a unique design that fit our needs. I wasn’t required to stay within the current brand standards so I had a bit of freedom. However, going overboard wasn’t an option since we were on a tight deadline.

I have always been a big fan of Material Design and made use of the components from the Vue Material library to speed up frontend development. With these components, I put together several wireframes before landing on an option that the product owner and team was happy with. The great thing about working with component libraries, such as Material Design, is that a portion of the UI work (Buttons, toggles, tabs, etc…) is already complete which helps in cutting down design time.

Here is an early prototype I had to work off of.

Moodboard

I compiled a mood-board that was composed of different apps, colors, layouts and applications that I wanted to take inspiration from.

Flows

After some intense whiteboarding sessions with engineers, the product owner and the team, I put together a flow.

Mock Wireframes

To finish out the design process, I put the mockups into a wireframe

Moodboard

Function Flow

Mockup Wireframe

Desktop Mockups

Full mockup versions of the prototype that was produced.

Mobile Mockups

The business said that responsiveness was a nice to have and I always prefer to design mobile first.

Outcomes and Lessons

The outcome was that blockchain is a great technology that can make a huge impact in the company.

With the platform that was created, the business determined that the current pool of energy producers was too small for a huge investment in infrastructure at this time. The business set a roadmap to review the market again in the future and reassess the project value.

Blockchain offers valuable security features that aids in controlling transactions in this type of market scenario. The proof of concept validated that this type of technology could be successfully implemented and would be worth the investment in other projects.