New wholesale electricity market data service launched

By Reza Nia, Head of Analysis & Insight, Elexon

Big Zero Report 2022

Image: Reza Nia, Head of Analysis & Insight, Elexon

Data on the wholesale electricity market is playing an increasingly important role in the energy system. Energy companies, policy makers and many others rely on timely and reliable access to data. It helps them to understand the market dynamics, and to predict or react to system events, trading decisions, and market surveillance.

What is Elexon?

Elexon manages the Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) one of 11 codes which provide the commercial arrangements underpinning the energy system. Our main job is to manage Settlement which makes sure that payments for imbalances in wholesale electricity supply and demand are settled accurately and efficiently.

We serve more than 570 electricity companies including suppliers, generators and local electricity network operators. We are also the go-to source of information and statistics on the wholesale market. Until recently, we provided this through the Balancing Mechanism Reporting Service (BMRS) website. The BMRS is built on an ageing platform and it can no longer scale at the pace our users expect, whether adding data, features or performance.

New data Insights Solution uses cloud technology for an improved service

In January 2021, we began to roll out our new platform, Kinnect, which will deliver Settlement, market entry and the other services we provide. A key part of this is our new data service, the Insights Solution, which we launched in June 2022.

Similar to the other Kinnect components, the Insights Solution uses cloud technology, which by nature, will be flexible and scalable to suit the needs of our customers. The modular technology it uses will enable us to implement BSC rule changes more quickly, and provide speedier support for innovation by existing companies and new entrants.

The Insights Solution is designed for easy exploration of GB electricity data through an intuitive interface and simple navigation. The report pages are clearly laid out and offer insight and context on the data provided, to help users who are new to the domain. The interactive charts and facets deliver state-of-the-art data visualisation and interaction. This makes analysing our data fast, easy, beautiful and insightful.

The user experience on the platform means access to underlying data is one click away. You can simply use the wizard to configure the export and download the data into the file type you need. All the data reports are underpinned by best in class Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and documentation allowing you to seamlessly integrate Elexon data directly into your systems and workflow, saving you time and increasing productivity. For more information about the APIs, visit the Developer Portal on the site.

My background is in finance where I spent 15 years building best-in-class data platforms for investment banks, hedge funds, asset managers and service providers. The platforms acted as a central repository for all data, distilling them into a single source of truth. They supported the scaling up of sophisticated digital and advanced analytics programs that translated data into business value. There is a lot of best practice that we have applied from the finance world to the Insights Solution. The goal here has been to re-imagine Elexon’s data provision as a more user-friendly, and customisable service.

Easy to visualise data at your fingertips

To give you an example of how the Insights Solution works, imagine that you want to see real time data on electricity generation sources, and in particular, periods where GB electricity generation has been coal-free. The Insights Solution has generation by fuel type graphs which are updated every five minutes with data from National Grid Electricity System Operator. You can filter out all other forms of generation and interconnector flows to just see periods where no coal was used.

All of Elexon’s data is open, and free to use

There are many data services in the energy sector. Some of them already use our data, and others charge users for their data or analytics services. However Elexon is not-for-profit and we do not charge people for using any of our data. Since June 2021, all of our data has been considered ‘open’, meaning that anyone can access it, modify it and distribute it with no restrictions, unless the BSC Panel (which governs the code) says otherwise. By using our Insights Solution we will be able to make more BSC data available to more organisations in the coming years, with no additional charges.

What data is now available on the Insights Solution?

The data available includes:

  • Generation outturn and forecast by fuel type
  • Wind generation forecast
  • Interconnector flows
  • Demand forecast and outturn
  • System frequency information, plus generation surplus and margin forecasts
  • Temperature information

Further updates to the site will be made later this year so that we can complete the migration from BMRS. Once this has been done, we will start decommissioning the BMRS in 2023.

Putting customers’ needs at the heart of the design

To build outstanding products and services for your customers, you need a thorough understanding of who they are, what they need and where their pain points and priorities lie. As the web has evolved, users have become more sophisticated. The demand for user-specific content has increased. More and more we want to access information on the go -from our couch to our car. We expect relevant and valuable information to be served straight up, and it should be easy to understand and designed to enhance usability.

To achieve this my team and I have been working with more than 180 users from across the industry, through the Insights Solution Data and Reporting User Group. This played an important part in making sure that the solution (and its usability) are fit to provide more comprehensive and easily accessible data. By keeping the users so actively involved in the process, they stayed at the forefront of our design decisions, helping us tailor our designs specifically to their needs.

I would like to thank them for their input, which has been invaluable, and we look forward to working with them throughout the development of the Insights Solution.

Sharing data and knowledge

As the energy industry evolves and develops new products, systems and services to meet Net Zero targets, we will all increasingly rely on data and data insights. This will mean higher volumes of data running through industry systems, and more market participants interacting with the data. It is essential that this data is both open and securely managed, in order to facilitate the levels of innovation and change that the industry needs.

The Insights Solution has been developed to make it as easy as possible for anyone to use our APIs to access our data. This was recently illustrated with Elexon joining forces with industry not-for-profit Icebreaker One, as part of their government-supported Open Energy programme. This programme seeks to revolutionise the way data is shared across the energy sector to make sure the UK achieves its Net Zero goals.

A proof of concept project between our two organisations has already been completed, which has integrated ten data sets with Icebreaker’s Open Energy service. The available data initially includes a forward view of electricity availability from generation and interconnector capacity, and historic views of the electricity generation fuel mix. Data consumers can build a picture of where GB electricity has (and will be) coming from, using these data sets.

We hope that people enjoy using the Insights Solution and that it continues to deliver what our users want to see. If you want to help to shape further development of the Insights Solution, please sign up to join the data and reporting user group.

This is a promoted article.

Latest Podcast