Energy Data Taskforce makes five key recommendations

Published: 13 June 2019

Digitalisation a vital enabler of Net Zero

The Energy Data Taskforce, commissioned by Government, Ofgem, and Innovate UK, has set out five key recommendations that will modernise the UK energy system and drive it towards a Net Zero carbon future through an integrated data and digital strategy throughout the sector.

The recommendations highlight that today a ‘Modern, Digitalised Energy System’ is being hindered by often poor quality, inaccurate, or missing data, while valuable data is often restricted or hard to find. 

The Taskforce run by Energy Systems Catapult and chaired by Laura Sandys, has 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. These two principles will start to unlock the opportunities of a modern, decarbonised and decentralised Energy System for the benefit of consumers.​

Energy Data Taskforce report:

A Strategy for a Modern Digitalised Energy System 

Laura Sandys, Energy Data Taskforce chair, 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.”

The Energy Data Taskforce has developed five recommendations within their report: A Strategy for a Modern Digitalised Energy System (summarised here):

  • Recommendation 1: 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 consumers’ interest.
  • Recommendation 2: 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, Understandable’, with common ‘Structures, Interfaces and Standards’ and is ‘Secure and Resilient’.
  • Recommendation 3: Visibility of Data – A Data Catalogue should be established to provide visibility through standardised metadata of Energy System Datasets across Government, the regulator and industry.
  • Recommendation 4: Coordination 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.
  • Recommendation 5: 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.

Chris Skidmore, Energy and Clean Growth Minister, said: “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.”

Martin Cave, Ofgem chairman, said: “Data will play a crucial role in enabling competition and innovation to drive down prices for customers and provide them with new products and services.

“This is why Ofgem fully supports the Taskforce’s five recommendations to improve data use. We will be working with BEIS, consumer groups and the industry to ensure better use of data unlocks a brighter future for energy consumers.”

Ian Meikle, Innovate UK Director – Clean Growth and Infrastructure, said: “The recommendations of the Energy Data Taskforce are welcomed, and will pave the way to improved data quality and availability for innovators, and accelerate the transition to a Net Zero emission energy system.

“These activities will enable the UK to build upon its world-leading position in smart energy systems and directly support the activities of the Industrial Strategy Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme. Innovate UK will continue to work with BEIS, Ofgem and Energy Systems Catapult to ensure that UK companies have access to the data they need to develop cleaner, cheaper local energy systems that create prosperous communities across the UK.”

Philip New, Energy Systems Catapult chief executive, said: ”The transformation of the energy system will require an acceleration in the pace of innovation across the sector – digitalisation and data will be a key enabler of that innovation. 

“We have been very encouraged by the support from the sector in developing these recommendations.  There is strong ambition and appetite from key organisations to embrace data and digitalisation strategies and we hope that the recommendations of the Taskforce will help them accelerate decarbonisation and decentralisation to provide best value for consumers.”

The Taskforce identified a staged approach should be taken towards achieving a Modern, Digitalised Energy System:

  • Data Visibility: Understanding the data that exists, the data that is missing, which datasets are important, and making it easier to access and understand data.
  • Infrastructure and Asset Visibility: Revealing system assets and infrastructure, where they are located and their capabilities, to inform system planning and management.
  • Operational Optimisation: Enabling operational data to be layered across the assets to support system optimisation and facilitating multiple actors to participate at all levels across the system.
  • Open Markets: Achieving much better price discovery, through unlocking new markets, informed by time, location and service value data.
  • Agile Regulation: Enabling 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.

The report has been welcomed by many across the sector including:

Sir John Armitt, National Infrastructure Commission chair, said: “Data has the power to transform how the UK generates and uses energy, but to be effective, it needs to be shared as widely as possible. It’s positive the Taskforce has therefore accepted the Commission’s recommendations for improving data sharing, so that the UK can harness the benefits of smart infrastructure.” 

Lawrence Slade, Energy UK chief executive, said: “This report sets out a positive vision for a more transparent and accessible energy system that will benefit market participants and customers alike by enabling decarbonisation and increasing innovation across the system. It is vital we capitalise on the gathering momentum in this area.”

Fintan Slye, National Grid Electricity System Operator director, said: “Digitalisation and data is essential to managing the energy system efficiently and securely through the energy transition.  We welcome this industry-wide digitalisation strategy and we look forward to closely supporting it’s delivery.”

Mark Bygraves, ELEXON chief executive, said: “ELEXON welcomes the Energy Data Taskforce’s report and believes that it is a valuable contribution to facilitating the development of innovative products for the energy market for the benefit of the end customer.

“We will help initiate the implementation of the report’s recommendations by seeking where necessary, to facilitate a change to the Balancing and Settlement Code this year to further embed the principle of Open Data within the BSC.”