The development of a modern and digitalised energy system in the UK is being hindered by often “poor quality, inaccurate or missing data”.
That’s according to the Energy Data Taskforce, commissioned by the government, Ofgem and Innovate UK and run by Energy Systems Catapult, which has set out five key recommendations that are aimed at modernising the energy system and driving it towards a net zero carbon future.
Its report suggests valuable data is often restricted and hard to find and has therefore delivered a strategy centred around two key principles – filling in the data gaps through requiring new and better quality data and maximising its value by embedding the presumption that data is open.
It has identified a staged approach that needs to be taken to achieve a modern, digitalised energy system to fill the data gaps and maximise data value.
They include understanding the data that exists, that is missing, which datasets are important and making it easier to access and understand data as well as revealing system assets and infrastructure, where they are located and their capabilities to inform system planning and management.
Operational data should also be layered across the assets to support system optimisation and facilitate multiple parties to participate at all levels across the system, achieve much better price discovery through unlocking new markets and enable regulators to adopt a “much more agile and risk reflective approach” to regulation of the sector by giving them access to more and better data.
Based on the findings, the Taskforce developed five key recommendations:
Digitalisation of the energy system: Government and Ofgem should use existing legislative and regulatory measures to direct the sector to adopt the principle of digitalisation of the energy system in the interest of consumers.
Maximising the value of data: Government and Ofgem should direct the sector to adopt the principle that energy system data “should be presumed open”, supported by requirements that data is discoverable, searchable and understandable as well as secure and resilient.
Visibility of data: A Data Catalogue should be established to provide visibility through standardised metadata of energy system data sets across government, the regulator and industry.
Co-ordination of asset registration: An Asset Registration Strategy should be established in order to increase registration compliance, improve the reliability of data and improve the efficiency of data collection.
Visibility of Infrastructure and Assets: A unified Digital System Map of the energy system should be established to increase visibility of the energy system infrastructure and assets, enable optimisation of investment and inform the creation of new markets.
Laura Sandys, Chair of the Taskforce said: “Data and digitalisation, while not the sole enablers of energy system transformation, are essential to optimising the value of assets and infrastructure, driving innovative services, better understanding risks, increasing system resilience and driving us towards net zero carbon and decentralisation at best value to consumers.
“In addition, greater data openness will provide much superior price and market visibility, increase liquidity and drive investment into the right technologies, locations and solutions for the system, all delivering better system and price outcomes for consumers.
“The Taskforce has found that the energy sector faces a unique set of challenges which have hindered the progress towards a more digitalised, data rich system. A culture of risk aversion has dissuaded collaborative, data driven solutions, while a skills gap, where it is hard to get the right combination of data, energy and engineering talent, needs to be filled.”
Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore MP added: “Transparent and accessible data will become ever more important as the UK develops its smart, green energy system. The way we share and harness that data will help us all as we move towards the greater use of low carbon technologies such as solar panels, battery storage systems and electric vehicles.
“The recommendations in this report will help to ensure data is at the forefront of our low carbon energy system which will continue to go from strength to strength as we power towards becoming a net zero economy by 2050.”