Digitalisation for Net Zero Emissions

Published: 13 May 2020

Digitalisation for Net Zero assesses the potential of digital technology to transform the energy system, including real-world case studies being developed by UK innovators.

As part of the Innovating to Net Zero programme, Energy Systems Catapult has carried out a number of deep dives into the technologies potentially needed to achieve the UK government’s 2050 net zero emissions targets – such as nuclear, storage and flexibility.

We have undertaken whole systems modelling to explore the optimal energy system design changes as individual technologies develop on potential pathways to Net Zero carbon. Different technologies, including the cost and performance trajectories for these to be commercially competitive, are evaluated with a whole systems perspective. This includes deep dives into particular energy technologies and an evaluation of how markets, policy and regulation could develop to better support innovation in these areas.

Achieving Net Zero: Key Points

  • In our view, the complexity and scale of integrating the multiple technologies and solutions needed to reach Net Zero emissions will not be possible without the digitalisation of the energy system.
  • Without data sharing and digitalisation, effective system planning and operation with growing variable renewables generation and greater distributed technology – whether on a national or regional level – is near impossible.
  • Better data will be the lifeblood of this more digitalised energy system, helping to inform decisions whether at an individual level via personal consumption choices or for planning investments on a local or national level in generation assets or network upgrades.
  • Data is key to optimising decisions for lowest carbon dioxide and lowest cost to consumers and to allow consumers to continue with their day to day lives with access to heating, transport and entertainment.
  • This report also introduces our new Digital Energy Fitness assessment being developed, which provides a comprehensive framework for measuring digital readiness akin to technology readiness levels. This provides organisations in the energy sector with guidance to progress with digital transformation.
  • The topics covered in this report show there are many opportunities for digitalisation to improve the functioning of the current energy system and enable the solutions which will help meet the Net Zero target. While much of the value from digitalisation relates to electricity, there are opportunities across electricity and gas with applicability to heat, transport, and other energy vectors.

Reducing emissions to achieve carbon neutrality by the 2050 target date will require innovation across the whole energy system.

We offer a range of data and digital services to help innovators develop new products, services and business models which disrupt the current energy system.