Digitalisation has the potential to catapult the world into a new era where clean, sustainable and renewable energy is produced.
The Energy Data Taskforce published five key recommendations last year as part of their report ‘A Strategy for a Modern Digitalised Energy System.’ Within it, digitalisation was identified as one of the most important enablers in achieving decarbonisation and decentralisation: “A staged approach needed to be taken to achieve a Modern, Digitalised Energy System in order to fill the data gaps and maximises data value.”
OFGEM also announced their RIIO 2 price controls strategy. By the end of 2020, their decision will essentially dictate how gas and electricity providers operate going forward, the goal being to put an onus on suppliers to aid the goal of Net Zero. Within the framework decision, there is a clear shift for Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to move towards becoming Distribution System Operators (DSO), which can be done through Digitalisation.
Digitalisation itself will be the backbone that enables innovation; the integral structure linking up new initiatives. Digitalised systems will be key in synchronising all decentralised energy providers, providing the flexibility needed to produce renewable energy.
Another key aspect of digitalisation is around data. An Open Data platform is one which shares valuable information from the power distribution eco-system (e.g. usage, price, asset, etc.) in a secure and standardised way.
A recent example of Open Data in action is the PSDII “open banking” directive: each bank must provide an easy way for third parties to consume account and transactional data (with the consent of the data subject). This has revolutionised the retail banking industry, allowing innovation to thrive and resulting in a better-informed customer.
This is why banking apps can now categorise your spending habits, giving you insight into exactly how much money you spent this month on retail, entertainment, food and bills. Having this data presented to the user allows them to understand their spending habits more clearly, empowering them to make better decisions around their spending (if they so wish).
This type of initiative needs to be replicated within the energy industry, with Open Data being a mandatory obligation on providers. The practice will enable more transparency and ultimately influence customer behaviour in the hope of aiding decarbonisation. It will provide multiple parties (such as government, citizens and market brokers) to benefit from the data sources provided by the suppliers.
This will allow customers to make more informed decisions based on their usage data and allow a two-way communication system between consumer and supplier. This is where the power of the Open Data initiative lies: it can influence the birth of new market solutions and help inform the behaviour of consumers.
Data analytics & resilience
Analytics is another key part of digitalisation that can help towards decarbonisation, as health monitoring their assets can improve efficiency.
Having the ability to closely monitor and estimate the device state to improve the stability and reliability of the power grid is fundamental. By doing so, companies decrease the risk of ageing assets causing power failures.
Using Machine Learning techniques to generate signatures for various fault types will improve the identification of device faults, providing a proactive view of the network and improving overall resilience. This will ensure the energy demand can be dealt with by the operators as the decentralised infrastructure needs to be able to cope with the increased demand over time.
In a nutshell
Digitalisation is the master key needed to open the door to a greener and cleaner eco system. It is the canvas that data and decentralisation rely on in order for their benefits to be realised.