Enabling Smart Local Energy Systems: The value of digitalisation and data best practice

Published: 25 January 2021

Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES) use digitalisation to control the supply and demand of energy intelligently at a local scale. This enables innovative integration of technologies, and through novel business models, can deliver services that address the needs of a specific area – creating greener, more flexible localised energy systems.

Successful integration of local energy projects requires collaboration and partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders including local authorities, network owners and operators, technology developers, investors, community groups and the end users. Effective digital, data and information management are key factors in achieving and demonstrating the benefits that these kinds of projects can offer to these stakeholders.

This report has been prepared using findings obtained by engaging with people actively developing Smart Local Energy Systems projects. It provides insight into the current main challenges being faced by those involved, and suggests recommendations based on experience from other sectors and related research programmes.

Key challenges

  1. There is difficulty in accessing high granularity energy data, which is required to demonstrate the value that SLES can offer.
  2. The ambiguity of commercial sensitivity and the intellectual property rights of energy data represent a barrier for wide access to data and information.
  3. It is challenging to gather informed consent or to access anonymised personal data to understand how users interact with new energy technologies.
  4. Gathering and combining data from multiple sources is an extremely time-consuming task due to the lack of standards and inadequate data sharing procedures.

Key Recommendations

  • Regulators, BEIS, and Innovate UK should support the opening of the data retained by the Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL) to business entities, as well as the establishment of independent open data institutions to broker access to commercially sensitive data. It is of strategic importance to support technical working groups aiming at developing data standards.
  • Organisations involved in developing SLES in the short-term should access smart meter data, rather than trying to access high granularity energy data from the energy network operator. This can be done using Consumer Access Device (CAD) or partnering with Data Communication Company (DCC) Users. After having accessed the smart meter data, anonymisation tools are necessary for the safe handling of personal data. The use of standards, such as the Common Information Model (CIM) can help the sharing of information between SLES and traditional energy networks.
  • Local Authorities and Energy Network Operators should run Open Data Triages to identify risks associated with data sharing, as well as standardise their data sharing conditions and licences. It is essential to create accessible systems, taking advantage of modern data sharing technologies.