Energy Regulators Driving Cloud-First Strategies in Race to Net Zero Carbon

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This article was written by Jim Allen, Future Networks Strategy Manager, Capula. Scroll below for his picture and bio. 

Every government in the world is evaluating the steps necessary to radically reduce carbon emissions. The UK Government has been especially proactive, not just assessing these steps, but rolling out aggressive carbon-control strategies and legislation. Originally, the UK Government’s Climate Change Act 2008 set a goal of an 80 percent reduction in the country’s carbon emissions by 2050. However, in 2019, the Government amended this Act, committing the UK to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Along with this ambitious initiative, the Government recognised several areas that need drastic transformation, particularly in the energy sector to be able fulfil this carbon emissions target. In October 2018, the UK Government and Ofgem established the Energy Data Taskforce (EDT) — a third-party task force led by the Energy Systems Catapult, established to produce a set of recommendations to drive the UK’s carbon goals through data availability and transparency.

Data transparency and the taskforce

So, what is data transparency, and why is it so important? Data transparency, put simply, is the ability to access high-quality data easily, anywhere, and anytime. This is an important consideration in every industry and business today, and it is especially crucial within the energy sector, where poor quality, missing, or obscured data can result in drastic consequences such as blackouts.

To avoid these pitfalls, the taskforce identified multiple stages to focus on to make the move towards digitisation — and net zero carbon emissions — as smooth as possible.

These stages are:

  • Data Visibility: Understand what data you have and what you still need. Identify your most valuable data and make that front and centre.
  • Infrastructure and Asset Visibility: Know the location and capabilities of your system assets and infrastructure.
  • Operational Optimisation: You should be able to layer your operational data across assets to promote system optimisation and facilitate participation throughout the system.
  • Open Markets: Utilise your time, location, and service value data to unlock new markets and better identify trends and ideal pricing.
  • Agile Regulation: Provide better data access to regulators, promoting a more agile and risk-reflective approach to sector regulation.

With these stages in mind, the taskforce then supplied five recommendations to the UK Government and Ofgem on how to direct the energy sector. From the report:

Recommendation 1: Digitalisation of the Energy System – Government and Ofgem should direct the sector to adopt the principle of Digitalisation of the Energy System in the consumers’ interest, using their range of existing legislative and regulatory measures as appropriate, in line with the supporting principles of ‘New Data Needs’, ‘Continuous Improvement’ and ‘Digitalisation Strategies’.

Recommendation 2: Maximising the Value of Data – Government and Ofgem should direct the sector to adopt the principle that Energy System Data should be Presumed Open, using their range of existing legislative and regulatory measures as appropriate, supported by requirements that data is ‘Discoverable, Searchable, Understandable’, with common ‘Structures, Interfaces and Standards’ and is ‘Secure and Resilient’.

Recommendation 3: Visibility of Data – A Data Catalogue should be established to provide visibility through standardised metadata of Energy System Datasets across Government, the regulator and industry. Government and Ofgem should mandate industry participation through regulatory and policy frameworks.

Recommendation 4: Coordination of Asset Registration – An Asset Registration Strategy should be established to coordinate registration of energy assets, simplifying the experience for consumers through a user-friendly interface to increase registration compliance, improve the reliability of data and improve the efficiency of data collection.

Recommendation 5: Visibility of Infrastructure and Assets – A unified Digital System Map of the Energy System should be established to increase visibility of the Energy System infrastructure and assets, enable optimisation of investment, and inform the creation of new markets.

What does this mean?

What this list makes clear is that critical changes in systems adaptation and data integration are required across the energy sector to enable this transition to a net zero carbon economy. When considering the scale and potential impact of these changes to the way that data and systems are managed today, it can look like a daunting task, especially when looking at the different needs of both OT and IT environments which have the potential to impede rather than speed effective data and systems integration.

Fortunately, when faced with these challenges you’re not on your own.

Capula, a leading systems integrator for the UK’s energy sector, has decades of experience helping businesses maintain their legacy systems whilst helping to guide our clients through the here and now and future challenges of digital transformation — which includes the latest IIoT and cloud-based technologies. Our subject matter experts are on hand to seamlessly navigate the technology pathways, improve data reliability and security, visualisation, machine learning, artificial intelligence and reviewing alternatives for IIoT and Cloud licensing including use case versus cost for ‘in-play’ technologies.

At Capula we recognise that for the energy sector to deliver with the Government’s net zero target and push for industry digitalisation there will be a significant increase in the amount of time-stamped data that will require storing, analysing, interpreting, and sharing. This is where data value resides and to maximise this value it will be necessary to evaluate systems and data architecture, configuration, and development to provide end user information from source data driving positive business outcomes.

But this won’t be just a ‘lift and shift’ from existing systems and processes.

There are solutions available now, such as InfluxDB, which is a trusted time series cloud services platform that empowers developers to build monitoring, analytics and visualisation applications. InfluxDB provides templates that are easy to create and share, which means you don’t have to start from scratch, albeit there will always be a need for certain elements of configuration and development work that you can source from existing plugins, integrations, and data sources to streamline workflow. With InfluxDB, it’s easy to visualise, collaborate on, and extract value from time series data — thereby reducing errors, improving security, and optimizing your IIoT solution as part of your cloud technology roadmap critical in achieving net zero carbon at lowest cost.

Conclusion

In November of this year, the UK Government is hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, where there are plans to discuss financial mobilisation, industry adaptations, and agreement towards global net zero carbon targets.

The energy sector is facing a growing need to adapt at pace with carbon and digitalisation strategies and the fast adoption of more flexible, scaleable and open cloud-solutions is key to lower cost in data visualisation and virtualisation. In this respect, both Capula and InfluxDB are ready to help.

About the author:

Jim Allen - Capula

An advocate for decentralised and digital energy systems, Jim is a specialist in OT systems integration, automation and control, digital and data solutions, supporting major customers in Power Transmission, Distribution and Renewable energy markets. Renowned for innovation and knowledge of the digital evolution of our future energy system, Jim has 25 years’ experience in utility network engineering, programme and operations management, and strategic business development. 

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