Failure to digitise energy T&D systems to hinder the energy transition


A new study released by DNV GL has revealed that barriers to vital digitisation of energy transmission and distribution (T&D) could hold back the success of the energy transition.

Other key study findings of the Digitisation and the future of power grids survey which comprised 2,000 senior engineers and executives in the energy sector include:

  • The integration of digital skills and systems in the power industry is an ongoing transformation.
  • 52% of distribution network operators (DNO) have digitalisation as a core part of their publicly stated strategy, falling to 39% for transmission system operators (TSO).
  • One-third of the T&D industry considers itself less advanced than the wider energy industry in its current application of digitalisation.
  • 67% of respondents highlighted need for employees with combined data and domain expertise.

Stakeholders in the T&D industry are fully aware of the perceived benefits of digitalisation with Transmission System and Distribution Network Operators listing the following top 3 digital technologies as making an impact on their industry:

  1. Cybersecurity (76% TSOs / 67% DNOs).
  2. Data Visualisation (67% TSOs / 71% DNOs).
  3. Automation and digital workflow (73% TSOs / 68% DNOs

When questioned about which skills would be most important for the industry, understanding and application of IoT systems (48%), data science (47%) and big data analytics (41%) were cited as the most sought-after competences by the T&D industry.

Lucy Craig, vice president of Technology and Innovation at DNV GL, said: “Our survey also shows that 40% of T&D stakeholders believe that a lack of digital mindset is a barrier within their organisation, which is defined as lack of staff engagement with digitalisation. This reveals that although the technology and ambition might be there, unless organizations can concentrate the efforts of their entire workforce towards the adoption of new technologies and harvesting the opportunities provided by big data and enhanced connectivity, the impact of digitalisation will be limited.

“The role that the T&D industry needs to play in making the energy transition a success cannot be overestimated, which is why we call on organisations to invest in digital skills training to equip their employees with the necessary competences to tackle the challenges the T&D industry is facing.”

The report is available to download here.