the energy ‘Jouliette’ : Swapping real value with blockchain

Recently I wrote about the Bitcoin, and other crypto currencies, as being the clothes of the emperor. They represent “ NOTHING”. Have no other value as ‘faith’. Which will become problematic, when it turns out there is no ‘heaven’. No virgins at the end of the rainbow.

But its the symptom of our current society: full of hot air . Its time to introduce real value again, based on physical units. And thats when I came across the ‘Jouliette’. A swapping unit of around 100Wh, or 0,1 kWh. Which is traded in ‘De Ceuvel’, in Amsterdam, a experimental lab environment, consisting of some house boats, a café, and some lab buildings. The Jouliette has been invented or defined, since they all have solar panels and exchange electricity on a real time basis. All demand and supply is treated in the system, a very interesting project and experiment. The local electricity grid managing company s involved as well. There was a full presentation of the project some weeks ago, the video of that including discussions can be found here [1].

Its even possible to have a real time look at the systems operations, at the Website of De Ceuvel [2]. And you can see the currents flowing and changing from red to green ( on day time!) , If you watch for a while, you can even spot when the sun starts shining in Amsterdam. And every unit is clickable to see whats consumed or produced. Very nice.

And the beautiful thing is, this works with blockchain…! That makes it possible to organize all that. So this is a blockchain application that does not require vast amounts of energy to operate in itself, compared to the mining of bitcoins., Since they do not mine, just swap and trade. That is to say, actually they do mine, , the solar radiation is mined…! Which represents real value ! Not negative value like bitcoins, destroying energy to have some random electrons positioned in a fake wallet, but real value.

Every Jouliette that is ‘mined ‘ represents value, being 100Wh. Does energy then have value? Of course, without energy nothing chages in this world, everything is energy related ( and mass related, about which later more) .

To stare for a while wards the real time energy flows in the Ceuvel, works soothing, fascinating. But the thoughts start coming, about how this can or will evolve, and also inspired by the discussion , a bit of philosophy on that:

Look, its a production unit, and trade unit, but you can’t withdraw anything from the system. You can’t take some Jouliettes out of the system to buy some beers in the café. At least as long as you don’t produce more as you consume on a year’s average. If you nevertheless would do so, with some energy profit in summer, you run short in winter in electricity for heating, if ordered too many beers. There is however a solution to that, like the one to be found on the Scottish island of Eigg: There the inhabitants also have a exchange system, but have no connection with a large grid. [3] So they produce too much energy in Summer, but can have shortages in winter: which is why every house has a traffic light: if green becomes orange everybody is supposed to delay not directly necessary tasks like doing the laundry. If it gets red: everything is switched of except heating and a light here and there. As a result in winter they automatically stay within the actually mined amount of solar energy ( and wind) . Now if you copy this to the Ceuvel area, but with one way traffic only to the national grid: That is supply to the grid when too much (in Summer) , but nothing coming in from that grid in winter (adapting) , this will save enough in summer to buy those beers….. The Eigg-Ceuvel combination looks ideal to give it a try….

Notwithstanding the fact that the beer should of course also represent real value, and not a fake price in non existing euro’s or bitcoins : So how much energy is represented in the beer? How much Jouliettes should the price be? The embodied energy of beer is known, around 4,4 Mj/kilo. [4] or 1138Wh/kilo. Which is around 5 beers ( 0,2 liter in NL), makes is 227 Wh per beer, is 2,27 Jouliette.

For every beer you pay with Jouliettes in summer, you run short of 0,22 kWh in winter to heat yourself. (By the way, its best to drink a beer from a pub that has its own brewery, its half the energy or CO2 emissions, See the Guardian [5]. The current trend in small pub breweries is a good thing!)

The energy content of the beer itself is around 100 kcal, which implies that you gain again 116Wh on potential labor power in the drinking person. Which is interesting: If you study he energy map, you can see that the largest consumer in the area is by far the café. The people sitting there, are waisting there own energy in the order of 1 Jouliette per hour ( 100 W/h from a 150 Watt body metabolism) , so they need to drink 1 beer an hour to compensate. In fact wile sitting there they are destroying energy value, (like the bitcoins) pouring in energy without any value coming out. The energy has to go in anyway to stay alive, but then better use it, producing ‘labor Jouliettes’, personal mining so to say, in stead of spilling…

And labor is energy as well, which we also should add to the blockchain system, like a human being on a bicycle powered machine can produce for longer time 75 watts , say 10 hours, producing 750 Wh, so 7,5 Jouliette. You can even run a office on that, ( see the description of such a pilot at lowtechmagazine [6]) and so why not by installing bicycle machines/ home trainers in the café in the area? Which brings blockchain in the real world… And perhaps integrated in the energy system via a chip in people’s legs with a “Jouliette wallet’?

We even forgot to mention that the people in the café need to be warmed, since they don’t move much, which explains part of the high energy consumption. Drinking beer and sitting in a café together is in fact the ‘Ceuvel’s own energy destroying machine…. ‘ However, the energy is from the sun, and would otherwise have been unused reflected to the universe, so better intercept it and have a beer. And doing nothing is still even better as working at a multinational and push economic growth to the limits. Nonetheless, with bicycle machines in the café the net result would have been even better…

I have to stop now, before I get lost in my own thoughts….

There is however another serious point: , before we dream ourselves rich: There are of course investments in the system itself, and I don’t mean money but in energy and materials. Which also requires an evaluation like ‘energy return on energy investment’, but then of energy and materials together, in and output combined, otherwise we might destroy physical value , while thinking we are doing well. Since energy is one thing ,but requires materials, which require energy which requires materials, etc.

Another point of thought is : A Jouliette does not yet distinguish between 100Wh from solar panels or from fossil fuels. 0,1 kWh is 0,1 kWh, whatever source. If someone in the Ceuvel switches on a diesel generator, he can start mining Jouliettes, and make a nice profit, especially in winter, when others are short ( to much beer in summer) , and the value of the Jouliette will rise to astronomical levels…. Just like the bitcoin, At least, in de Ceuvel you will have had you beers ….



[1] De Zwijger video

[2] de Ceuvel Map:

[3] Energy managment in Eigg, Scotland:

[4] Milieuanalyse van dranken in Nederland Blonk milieuadvies April 2011

[5] Guardian: