S2DS Virtual Use Case: Electron

Using Data to improve energy supply

This data science project was delivered to Electron as part of the S2DS Virtual March 2016 programme

The Problem

Consumers have minimal control over their energy: A small number of large energy suppliers dictate the terms of energy contracts and billing. Electron is building a new, secure, decentralized and open platform for the energy market. To achieve this Electron use the Ethereum blockchain, a decentralised, open platform that runs smart contract code reliably and exactly as intended. Electron’s goal is to build a platform, which will allow consumers to interact with suppliers efficiently.

Project Set-up

The team for this project was composed of four S2DS participants with analytical PhD’s working in collaboration with a mentor from Electron. The team was entirely distributed, communicating daily via Slack and Skype. The project began by developing tools to fetch and visualize the data generated by Electron’s Ethereum blockchain application, as well as data stored by Electron on the distributed, peer-to-peer “InterPlanetary File System” (IPFS).  A second important task was the investigation of transactions on the blockchain, in particular searching for trends in the data.

We were delighted with the results of the S2DS team, which culminated in a widely shared demonstration at a major blockchain conference. (Paul Ellis, CEO Electron)

Outcome

In the course of this project an AngularJS application was designed to fetch information  from the blockchain, and  create visualisations of Electron’s contracts. This visualization software illustrates Electron’s contracts running on the Ethereum blockchain, as well as basic interactions with the blockchain and with IPFS from the browser. A package for the R language, ethr, was developed. This package has been publicly released, and is available from to download from github, allowing access to the Ethereum blockchain though R. The package provides preliminary analysis tools to enable investigation of Ethereum transactions. The release of this package was announced at London’s Ethereum Meetup and was met with much interest from the community. The project is still on-going, Electron has taken on two members of the S2DS team and is building on the project work for future products and services.