Digitalisation: supporting central energy markets in transition


The move to a low-carbon economy, deregulated market structures and increasing customer expectations are driving utilities to embrace new digitally-enabled business models and place consumers at the heart of their business. Central Market Solutions, which are primarily data platforms to facilitate the exchange of all types of data and support central market facilitation play a key role in this new energy system.

Digitalisation – has led to four developments: Flexibility, open data platforms, usage of these data and putting the customer in the driver’s seat.

CGI vice-president: consulting, Mattijs van den Hoed explains: “Our customer engagement has reiterated the growing importance of flexibility and subsequently the openness of data platforms to support this flexibility.

Open data is also associated with customer access to data and opportunities and issues associated with the usage of that data.”

The need to utilise data and the increasing complexity of market structures means an effective market infrastructure is needed to enable market participants to operate efficiently. This removes much of the cost in managing those processes, minimising barriers to competition and stimulating innovation and development of new products and services, consumer choice is enhanced.

Utilising their understanding of market regulation, information management, digital technology and cybersecurity, CGI has designed and built 12 of the 18 central energy market systems in the world. In Europe, for instance, they have done work in the following countries (amongst others):

In the United Kingdom, designing, building and operating:

In Finland, the team is working with the Finnish market operator in the development of its Datahub to facilitate the appropriate exchange of data between all relevant parties. The Datahub market processes ensure that the information from the Datahub is delivered in a secure way between market parties. It has particularly been taken in to account that the data is delivered only to a market party who is entitled to the data.

In Denmark, initially, all data related to consumers, along with consumption and settlement was decentralised and shared bilaterally between approximately 120 market players. Data exchanges between all the parties were therefore often challenging and inefficient.

Denmark’s transmission system operator, Energinet, was tasked with facilitating the building and operation of a new central market system that:

  • is easily accessed by all market participants,
  • ensures uniform communication methods
  • standardises market processes for recording and distributing energy market data
  • provides equal information access to all market parties; and
  • is automated and simple to use.

Since 2013 Energinet has had a central storehouse for the massive volumes of data about consumers (including consumer contracts, grid fee billing and balance settlement), their consumption patterns, and prices from approximately 3.3 million metering points. Importantly, all market parties can contribute to DataHub, and access it at any time, for any information they needed.

In April 2016, DataHub was upgraded to include a ‘supplier-centric model,’ intended to increase competition and encourage the development of new products and services for consumers. The result—today, the electricity supplier is the single point of contact for the customer and is responsible for all customer communication, including billing.

Customers in the driver’s seat Utilising a central repository for information exchange in the electricity retail market enables customers to change their supplier and simplifies notifications address changes.

The flow of information is managed in the following way:

Update information provided to all relevant parties. All the relevant information is stored within the Central System and any changes to information are sent out to all parties who are entitled to this information. Disconnection and connection information, in particular, is stored in the Central System, ensuring accurate information is available at all times.

Customers authorise parties to use their information for specific purposes. For example – if a particular service needs access to a customer’s consumption data, this must be authorised by the customer. Customers are able to see which companies have access to their information and the time periods that these permissions are in place for. They can revoke the authorisation at any time.

Van den Hoed says: “These are incredibly complex environments and our primary focus is to provide systems that are adaptable to this complexity, but also flexible enough to be tailored to each of the regulatory environments in which our customers work.”