Dan Clarke, Head of Innovation at the Energy Networks Association, explains how harnessing the power of geospatial data will help deliver on the UK’s Net Zero emissions target
The energy networks are central to unlocking Net Zero in Great Britain. They provide the backbone needed for more electric vehicles, heat pumps, hydrogen fuel sources and renewables. As an industry, we are focused on innovation, using infrastructure and new technology in better, smarter ways to unlock benefits for consumers, businesses and society.
While there has been an enormous focus on physical infrastructure and building out the renewables fleet, as we deliver the energy market of the future, data and digitalisation will be crucial to help us reach our Net Zero climate change targets by 2050.
The priorities for energy network providers have traditionally been on keeping energy flowing, on customer service, and an uncompromising focus on safety. However, the traditional energy system is undergoing a major transition to a smarter digital energy system, an ‘Internet of energy’ … one that is characterised by decarbonised, decentralised and digitalised resources.
The energy sector faces an unprecedented challenge in satisfying an ever-growing number and variety of resources seeking connection to the grid: solar panels, biomethane plants, and electric vehicles to mention just three. That number is growing all the time as we strive to achieve our net zero targets.
Networks have access to a lot of data that is used to adapt business practices and, ultimately, benefit customers. However, as we look to a low-carbon economy, the data needed to reach Net Zero at the current pace is, in many instances, either not available or not easily accessible.
Deepening digitalisation will ensure that energy networks are in the best possible position to tackle this challenge, by having quality data that can inform investment, optimise processes, and enable innovation to future-proof the whole energy system.
Government and industry both consider digitalisation a huge opportunity. It is a central pillar of a Net Zero energy market, and now is time to start delivering it.
Boosting the power of geospatial
This is where boosting the power of geospatial data comes in. Energy Networks Association (https://www.energynetworks.org) has started work with Ordnance Survey and 1Spatial to build an in-depth digital system map of the UK’s energy system.
Ordnance Survey has a long history of working with the utility sector, building trust and confidence thanks to it world-class data and expertise to the energy networks. Using 1Spatial’s extensive utility data management experience, the OS and 1Spatial teams will collaborate to deliver a trusted digital system for the market.
Network data from all Britain’s electricity and gas network operators will be pulled into an integrated, digital energy system map covering the entirety of Great Britain. The map will provide customers with information about energy network assets and where they are located, as well as who owns them.
Making this information available will significantly improve investment decisions, support growing markets such as the UK’s world-leading local flexibility markets, and help bring new renewable connections to the energy networks.