Blockchain infrastructure for a smarter energy sector. A primer on liability

Cappelli, V.*, Cuccuru, P.*

The paper “Blockchain infrastructure for a smarter energy sector. A primer on liability” (Cappelli, V.*, Cuccuru, P.*) will be presented at the 8th Conference on the Regulation of Infrastructures (20-21 June, 2019).


Smart grids are essential for a more sustainable and reliable energy supply system. They facilitate the integration of decentralised electricity generation and encourage prosumers production. Blockchain technology can support and streamline this process. The application of blockchain to smart grids can help coordinate distributed energy production and promises to enable peer-to-peer transactions through smart contracts.

The intersection of smart grids and blockchain ledgers recalibrates the relationships within energy supply systems in favour of a decentralised energy sharing network. Within this context, whether there is – or should be – a middleman responsible for energy supply is a core issue to investigate. While intermediaries challenge the technological – and philosophical – assumptions of blockchain systems, they also enormously ease the allocation of liability in case of dysfunctions. The main question this paper aims to address is where responsibility and liability stand in a complex system that combines the traditional energy infrastructure with an automated digital grid based on blockchain technology.  Different models of blockchain, and the impact they have on liability, are considered. The article concludes that energy supply system needs intermediation Eventually, it explores the concept of “distributed liability” as a means for managing risks in highly decentralised systems.

Presentation is available here.


Viola Cappelli is a Ph.D. Candidate in Law at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa. She graduated summa cum laude in Law at the University of Pisa in June 2018, with a thesis on energy performance contracts and during her undergraduate career she was honors student at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa.
In 2016 she was a visitig student at École Normale Supérieure of Paris, working on contractual justice and the reform of French civil code.
Her research interests range from consumer protection law and contract law in general, to the interaction between private law and administrative law in the market.
Her Ph.D. project is about energy, sustainable development and energy efficiency, from a private law point of view and in the light of technological evolution.


Pierluigi Cuccuru graduated in Law summa cum laude at the University of Pisa (2014) and was admitted to the Ph.D. in Law at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa. He trained as a research assistant at the University of Leicester (2015) and was visiting researcher at the Brussels School of International Studies (2017) and the University of Amsterdam (2018). His interests include regulation through technical standards, EU internal market law, and contract automation through blockchain. He is associate in De Matteis Law in Rome, where he practices in EU digital payments, open banking, and digital identity.



*  presenting author

More on Energy & Climate

Reflections on UNFCCC COP27
Reflections on UNFCCC COP27

The meeting of COP27 (Conference of the Parties 27) under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change took place in…

Read the best papers of our Alumni from 'Evolution of Electricity Markets in Europe'
Read the best papers of our Alumni from 'Evolution of Electricity Markets in Europe'

For the 2022 edition of our community course Evolution of Electricity Markets in Europe, participants were given the opportunity to…

Integration of emissions trading systems: where are we at today? 
Integration of emissions trading systems: where are we at today? 

The conclusions reached at COP26 in Glasgow on the Article 6 rulebook should help achieving further mitigation using market mechanisms,…

Join our community

To meet, discuss and learn in the channel that suits you best.