Florian Helfrich

eGoBIT – Governance of Blockchain-based Infrastructure Transitions on Energy markets

Science, Technology and Policy Studies, University of Twente, f.l.helfrich@utwente.nl

Supervisors: Prof. Stefan Kuhlmann, Dr. Peter Stegmaier, Prof. dr. J.L. Hurink, Dr. E.J. Aukes


I have obtained a B.A. degree with the major subject Sociology and minor subject Economics from the University of Tübingen, and a MSc degree in Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Society from the University of Twente.

Due to my previous research on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, investigating how they are constituted through systems with technical and social infrastructures, I have developed a great scientific and personal interest in investigating the governance of socio-technical infrastructures. I am interested in analysing the ways in which forms of governance influence transformation processes, how they are structured, developed and shaping out.

Summary PhD project

There is an ongoing transformation of energy markets towards more sustainability, higher degrees of decentralisation and a stronger citizen focus. Stakeholders on energy markets such as energy retailers, regulatory institutions and local communities show increasing interest in incorporating these aspects in their infrastructure development and policy making. Some of these stakeholders are trying to use blockchain technology through networks with distributed governance at producer and consumer levels and are developing and implementing blockchain-based platforms for energy management and -trading.

This project will investigate in which ways technological infrastructures using blockchain technology are constituted and regulated in the context of energy markets. It will be analysed how the technical construction and implementation of such infrastructures develop with relation to interactions and social relations between energy providers, governing institutions and local communities. Three research questions are at the core of this project:

  • How is the socio-technical and decentralised character of blockchain-based infrastructures influencing the ways in which they are controlled by governance approaches?
  • How are the various stakeholders and especially individual consumers situated within these infrastructures and interacting with each other?
  • How are governing authorities trying to influence or control the development of such systems and in which ways do they address, legitimise and practically implement such approaches?

Of particular interest are the ways in which the aspects of sustainability and forms of self-sufficient citizen utilities, or so-called energy citizens, are addressed, conceptualised and implemented in the ongoing transformation of energy markets. It will be investigated how these aspects are represented within the perspective of corporations and governing institutions connected to the implementation of blockchain-based infrastructures in energy markets.

This project is part of the BMS Signature Grant PhD position of the University of Twente.