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Preamble: “I recently rewatched The Imitation Game with my son and it made me wonder if we need a similar intervention to better address the vast challenges we face our energy digitalisation transformation. We need to get the best minds in the country to come together and join the dots properly. Currently that is falling between the cracks. How can we better use what we have to improve our security, resilience and lay foundations for innovation and growth” — Gavin Starks.

“The current situation facing the UK is not a question of security of gas supply, but of high gas prices set by international markets. The UK’s exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of our plan to generate more cheap, clean renewable energy and nuclear power in the UK to reduce our reliance on expensive fossil fuels”, https://gov.uk/government/news/russia-ukraine-and-uk-energy-factsheet

The issue is that addressing our energy security will take time, will not be addressed by this coming winter (2022-23) and may impact hitting our binding Net Zero targets. The new energy security strategy further underscores the importance of energy data to achieving national targets [link, link].

The challenge is to improve energy security in both supply and efficiency (reduction of consumption): to accelerate switching to a new energy mix; reducing energy use across the UK (domestic, public and commercial); to ensure economic stability and alleviate the cost-of-living crisis.  This needs a coordinated understanding of where energy is being used, where it can be reduced, and how this relates to network supply and distribution.  Current modelling, while advanced, does not have the right quantity, quality, diversity, granularity and time resolution to maximise the benefit for the whole system.  Industry, Government and consumers need better access to data and information to help reduce risk, increase efficiency and maximise resilience. 

The gap to better understanding of what options exist and what opportunities are realistic, is that there are many different systems and models across organisations that make secure, resilient and repeatable sharing of trusted data difficult. An opportunity exists to help ‘join the dots’ between organisations and initiatives, to accelerate the EDiT recommendations, to help increase our energy resilience and unlock rapid innovation. Convening around this challenge requires public and private sector collaboration, across sectors (e.g. heating, renewables, retrofit, EV). 

Understanding systemic options that could help address this

There will be issues regarding pricing, availability, flexibility and pressure on demand. To address this will require collaboration between the DNOs, energy supply and demand, better understanding of where there is demand vs flex. It will require coordination between government, industry and consumers to both reduce demand and increase production. The UK can probably cope through this summer into autumn. This period (3-6 months) can be used to prepare for Winter ‘22 where, under current conditions, it is exposed and at risk.

We propose a programme that will: 

  1. In 2022, enable government and industry to understand the priority data gaps that stand in the way of addressing current exposure, and in delivering the energy strategy. 
  2. Bring together expertise by convening relevant stakeholders in a coordinated, agile, time-bound and results-based programme;
  3. Identify specific use cases that can deliver solutions that can be addressed through better data sharing, and could include where data could aid government and regulator decision making (through stakeholder engagement and research);
  4. Identify the data and information needed (both presumed open data and secure data);
  5. Build reusable data infrastructure (including that which requires higher security levels) needed for the data sharing to take place in a trusted framework (e.g. Open Energy);
  6. Analyse and report on Open Energy’s data sensitivity classes so that the work can be repeated, replicated and scaled across related sectors (eg. electric vehicles, water);
  7. Benchmark current practices and report on improvements, evidence and outcomes that support decision-making and institutional memory, aligned with the national interest. 

Who is involved and why 

Icebreaker One is an independent, non-partisan non-profit making data work harder to deliver net zero. Its team is uniquely skilled in convening public and private sector actors, with decades of experience creating incentives for corporate collaboration and shaping public and private data governance, at global, national and local levels. It sees the opportunity to increase energy security and accelerate climate finance to achieve demonstrable Net Zero outcomes. It has developed Open Energy as a non-profit service and is working across the energy and EV sectors to create open marketplaces for data. 

Our network includes over 60 organisations across the energy sector that have been actively involved in the development of Open Energy.

If you would like to get in touch about this idea, or Open Energy in general, please contact openenergy@ib1.org