Interoperability and open data sharing vital to EU’s energy transition

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Interoperability of data platforms and energy systems and secure open data sharing are vital but need improvement within the European energy market to deliver the energy transition.

These are the two key takeaways from a webinar entitled Towards a European data space for energy hosted by the European Commission and Enlit Europe. The webinar focussed on issues with access, exchange, security, and governance of energy-related data.

During the discussion, David Zenner, head of consumer centricity at Elia, said: “Access to data is a very important aspect for system operators to be able to manage grid systems of tomorrow.”

He said with more and more distributed energy resources (DERs) being integrated with grid networks, access to real-time data and open data sharing between energy stakeholders enables grid reliability.

For instance, with increased numbers of electric vehicles (EVs) expected to result in a massive increase in energy demand, having access to data regarding the performance of the grid enables EV owners to charge their vehicles at the right time and avoid straining the grid.

Zenner said open data sharing enables third parties to develop innovative solutions and use cases that can help to simplify and accelerate the energy transition.

With grid modernisation potentially increasing the vulnerability of grid networks to cyber attacks, Zenner said open and secure data sharing and management result in the creation of modern cybersecurity mechanisms that the sector can leverage to address growing threats.

Interoperability

However, George Hartner, an expert on energy data management at Geode, said the European Commission needs to ensure member states’ energy systems and data sharing mechanisms are interoperable to promote and simplify the exchange of data.

He said: “National environments are very different hence the need for standardised and harmonised data exchange.”

The more data holders share data, the more third-parties use that data to come up with new use cases. This “enables competition of ideas and competition of solutions enables the closure of technology gap,” added Zenner.

Distributed and renewable resources managament

Zenner, said: “To meet Fit for 55 goals, renewable energy data need to be shared to enable the optimal use of flexible energy capacity and price signals.”

Luis Morencos, Energy Industry Director for Western Europe at Microsoft, backed Zenner’s notion by saying data sharing helps “avoids countries and companies from being left behind in the energy transition and digital transformation.”

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In other words, open data sharing can enable the EU to deliver an inclusive and just energy transition, one can argue.

Morencos added that by sharing data, the EU will be able to take advantage of use cases including metering data hubs, DER aggregation, grid flexibility, e-mobility, p2p energy communities, energy efficiency, circularity, and distributed PPAs, all vital elements of the energy transition.

Regulation

The webinar speakers said the EU however needs to ensure that regulation promotes cross-sector collaboration and facilitates interfaces of data.

Zenner said: ”Regulatory frameworks need to accommodate developments in other areas including network codes.”

Natalie Samovich, chair of WG Smart Energy, reiterated that regulation needs to ensure “smart sector integration as it is vital. It will allow distributed intelligence and the connection of intelligence at the grid.”

For instance, she said it allows the integration of technologies from the EVs, heating, smart home and utility sectors to develop smart functionalities. She said regulation needs to ensure standard management of data and energy systems to encourage consumer acceptance of the use of their data for various purposes that are beneficial for energy decarbonisation.

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