As digitalisation amplifies within the European energy sector, data management is one area that needs maximum focus for the sector to reap the full benefits of digital transformation initiatives.
Optimal data management would help ensure utilities are able to fully enhance the operation of their grid networks and that the full advantages of integrating distributed and renewable energy resources (DERs) are achieved. With more and more distributed resources being connected with grid networks, distribution and transmission system operators are faced with the challenge of huge amounts of data that needs processing, storage and utilisation and as such investing in advanced data management and analytics capabilities would help them to fully operate and maximise their DERs efficiently.
This has pushed the European Commission to invest in research and development of tools and business cases capable of helping utilities to enhance their data management. Through the BRIDGE Working Group initiative, a multi-year pilot being deployed as part of the Horizon 2020 project, various stakeholders including research institutions, utilities and technology companies are investigating how energy data can be used to enhance utility operations, simplify the digital transition and enable the decarbonisation of the bloc’s energy networks.
Since its launch in 2016, the BRIDGE Data Management Working Group is working towards the achievement of three objectives including:
- Providing the EU Commission with recommendations to ensure the region has adequate communication infrastructure required to enable TSOs and DSOs to exchange data. The group is exploring the technical and non-technical challenges faced by system operators in infrastructure development, management and operation. For instance, testing how 5G can help utilities in setting up and operating smart grids.
- Cybersecurity and data privacy: With digitalisation advancing, so does interconnectivity resulting in increased vulnerabilities of grid networks to cyberattacks hence the need to ensure data integrity and security. Whilst data sharing between various parties within the energy ecosystem is key, the Data Management Working Group is testing how this can still be done whilst ensuring the protection of critical energy infrastructure and consumer and utility data from cybercriminals. In 2018 and 2019, the group has been looking at cooperation on data exchange and utilisation between TSOs and DSOs and how parties from the two sectors can access the data, store and protect it in an efficienct and secure manner.
- Data handling: Following 2018 and 2019 projects on TSOs and DSOs cooperation and data exchange and protection, in 2020, the working group focused on the development of new and enhancement of existing data exchange platforms and data analytics techniques for data processing. The group also explored the various use cases for data storage with 2021 planned to enhance data storage platforms with new features, demonstrating how data exchange architecture works and ensure the interoperability of flexibility assets. The interoperability of flexibility assets is vital for grid stability across the entire bloc since more similar systems will provide communication between tsos and dsos for cross border trade and integration of the European energy network The group will in 2021 provide the EU Commission with lessons learnt from it projects for standards development.
During a webinar hosted by Enlit Europe on how digitalisation can enable climate neutrality, Olivier Genest, Chair of Data Management Working Group, called for cross-sector collaboration on data sharing and utilisation for the energy sector to fully benefit from data. He said there is a need for the development of platforms that would enable the energy sector to share data with other sectors such as the smart home, building management and transportation industries to provide cross-sector and advanced services to consumers.
Asked which sectors the energy industry needs to learn from, Genest said the industry needs to copy from the manufacturing, agriculture and transportation sectors on areas such as data privacy, flexibility, IoT and energy efficiency.
Stanislas D’Herbemont, Chair of Customer Engagement Working Group who was also part of the discussion highlighted that the energy sector needs to learn a lot on crisis management from the water sector.
For more information about the role of big data, analytics and digitalisation in enabling the energy transition in Europe, listen to the on-demand webinar here.