Decarbonising the electricity grid is one of the huge climate challenges of this century.
The good news is that amazing progress has been made in the UK and globally installing renewable power generation and batteries and managing energy use proactively.
The bad news is that these millions of diverse, distributed systems speak wildly different languages, making it hard for them to work together towards a shared goal of decarbonisation. Sharing data in the energy system will lower the barrier to entry for innovators, and - the bit that we at Open Climate Fix are most passionate about - help achieve net-zero emissions [Energy Data Taskforce report].
We need to, as a renewable energy community, define elegant, open standards that facilitate energy system data sharing that in turn both ensures data owner security, privacy and legal protection and rewards data owners for sharing their data.
For example, we need to decide on how to collectively establish an evolutive vocabulary that describes energy assets; how to uniquely identify physical assets; how to express that - for example - only authorised users can access domestic meter data, but everyone can see data from the grid supply point from which that domestic meter is fed. And, one crucial piece of the puzzle to keep in mind is, there are many non-technical problems to solve to enable this web of data.
If, as a community, we get these standards right, then, over the coming years and decades, open standards can transform the following in the energy ecosystem: network management; demand-side flexibility at scale; electric vehicle smart charging; energy forecasting; resource planning; heating decarbonisation; community energy; research; policy; heating coordination, power and transport; the list goes on.
In creating these standards, we must remember that energy companies are already busy doing a world-class job keeping the lights on. Any new standard must come with simple implementation. Drafting these new standards is an opportunity to remove the complexity that exists as historical artefact in the energy sector.
We need to ask ourselves the following questions:
We can also make life easier by combining existing parts, rather than reinventing the wheel.
Open Climate Fix has worked with Icebreaker One on a proposal for how to support opening up energy data within legal and data permissions structures. We are now focused on making additional PV data accessible - both the metadata that describes systems and historical generation data. This serves as a use-case that can be seen as a detailed example for sharing energy data. It also supports OCF’s other work. We are lucky enough to be supported by the Open Data Institute in this endeavour.