Deadline for participation: Wednesday, 16th November 2022. The deadline for this application is November 21st.

BEIS is procuring a research study as part of the UK’s £65M Flexibility Innovation Programme and building on the Energy Systems Catapult’s Energy Digitalisation Taskforce (EDiT) report.

In line with its collaboration principles, its development of Open Energy and its Net Zero mission, Icebreaker One is making an open call for collaboration with organisations in the development of the Digital Spine.

The Open Energy approach has been open and collaborative throughout, and we will continue as such. For reference, during the MEDA Phase One work, we engaged with over 200 people in six weeks, from across the energy sector and beyond for input into Open Energy’s design.

We strongly believe that Open Energy addresses many of the challenges laid out by the EDiT report and wish to identify:

a. What elements of Open Energy are fit for purpose to deliver components of the Digital Spine
b. What gaps or areas need to be evolved that Open Energy could or should address
c. What areas are out of scope for Open Energy and could or should be addressed by other actors
d. How to achieve this while delivering or exceeding the Government’s net-zero targets

Click here to endorse our approach

We are leading a bid and have already identified and are codeveloping a proposal with partners and we invite other organisations to:

  1. Endorse our approach to build on Open Energy, as either an individual expert or as an organisation
    If so, please sign here. If you have any questions, please get in touch.
  2. Request to be included in invitations for interviews and/or input into research, including open webinars (which we ran throughout the development of the MEDA-programme-funded development of Open Energy)
    If so, please sign up to our newsletter via which we will make announcements.

Our approach includes (but is not limited to):

  1. Develop open standards that enable open marketplaces for data-sharing (both Open and non-Open)
  2. Lay the foundations for interoperable and cohesive energy data infrastructure
  3. Build on existing work and the sunk costs invested in existing initiatives

This includes the scope to:

  • Openly consult through stakeholder engagement to understand user needs (both within the energy sector and beyond), share progress, and capture feedback
  • Develop an energy system digital infrastructure that enables easy discoveryaccess to, and usage of data for the whole market
  • Develop mechanisms that enable the implementation and adoption of shared, industry-wide interoperability standards
  • Facilitate the adoption (or, if required, creation) of common standards and processes for data interoperability across the energy sector and related sectors (e.g. transport, water, built world, agriculture)
  • Scope and develop use-cases, business models, and potential policy interventions to ensure the system is based on the needs of the private sector, the public sector, and consumers while delivering or exceeding the Government’s net-zero targets- Develop mechanisms for industry innovation (e.g. regulatory sandboxes, innovation programmes) 
  • Create processes, principles and practices for coherent data sharing and standards development
  • Enable definition of, and compliance with, data best practices, security,  privacy-by-design, and methods for reducing friction in data collection, sharing, and access control.

What is BEIS asking for?

BEIS will procure a six-month discovery study assessing technical feasibility and policy implications of the energy system ‘digital spine’ concept, as proposed in the Energy Digitalisation Taskforce report.

An energy system digital spine is a proposed piece of digital infrastructure to connect energy system participants, enabling them to exchange data simply and securely. A common industry-wide digital spine solution could deliver the efficiencies of an interoperable, digital energy system, but the definition, scope, potential delivery options and overarching governance requirements are uncertain and wide-ranging. This study will include definition/scope options analysis, stakeholder engagement, security and operability implications, user journeys, and costs.

This work sits within the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio’s £65m Flexibility Innovation Programme, which seeks to enable large-scale widespread electricity system flexibility through smart, flexible, secure, and accessible technologies and markets.

Further, we highlight that the recently released report by the Energy Systems Catapult (who authored the Digital Spine report), in collaboration with Ovo Energy, Clean energy retail: The role of energy retailers in the net zero transition states:

The regulator should mandate Open Energy as an industry wide data sharing mechanism. Open Energy has, via a competition run by government, created a service that enables trusted actors to share data in a consistent way across the energy value chain. Mandating this solution would accelerate its adoption and make consistent an approach, reducing costs and barriers to entry.” (page 20)

Do we have a conflict of interest in this scoping phase?

We have thought hard about this, as we obviously cannot enter into a scoping bid having pre-determined its outcomes. However, we have two options:

  1. Offer to join as a contributor to other commercial bids to make the case for Open Energy ‘at arms length’
  2. Offer to lead the process of assessing the market needs, as we did with MEDA, working to represent multiple voices across the energy sector and beyond. The approach we take here must be wholly transparent and engage with other organisations that can validate the neutrality of the approach and its conclusions.

Given that Open Energy was created to address market needs and, by definition, can and will adapt around those needs, we believe our framing of the four questions above helps set out a clear path to an outcome that can represent the underlying market needs. Open Energy has been built (largely) using public money and is run by Icebreaker One which is a Limited by Guarantee, non-profit company.

However, if you are bidding and would like to include Open Energy in your bid, please contact us.