In order to secure industry alignment and meet user needs we are seeking participation across distribution networks and transmission organisations. Please register your interest here. 

Wednesday January 24th marked the second advisory group meeting for the NIMBUS (Network Innovation and Meteorology to BUild for Sustainability) project, a collaboration involving Icebreaker One, SSEN Transmission, SSEN Distribution, IBM and Palantir.

The meeting explored the energy sector’s readiness for data sharing, outlining the importance of this for the NIMBUS project as it looks to grapple with energy asset degradation and reliability.

Understanding weather data

There are a number of weather events that can impact energy infrastructure. These include wind damage, flooding, temperature extremes, lighting strikes and more. And, by accurately factoring in these weather-related events, organisations can optimise maintenance schedules or plan for equipment replacements therefore extending the life cycle of these assets. 

Despite this, not all weather events are factored into risk. Lighting strikes, due to their transient nature, are an example of a weather event that has proven hard to predict and difficult to factor into the risk assessment of an energy asset. That’s not to say that lightning strikes aren’t tracked, with one member of the advisory group noting that network operators look at historical data on lighting strikes to find patterns, and identify similar conditions in the future. 

Historical vs real-time data

Accessing historical data on weather events is generally more straightforward than accessing live, real-time data. This is because historical weather data is often open and more easily accessible for users. This compared to real-time weather data which is more likely to be subject to licensing agreements. These discrepancies were noted by the advisory group, with a collective recognition that the energy industry, as a whole, requires a shift in mindset when it comes to sharing data. 

The current reality of siloed pockets of data across the energy sector is a system that no longer serves the industry. More than this, it’s a system that’s holding the energy industry back. By incorporating a governance structure, we can break down these silos within the energy industry and beyond, building a culture of collaboration. All steps that will help SSEN-Transmission accelerate its net-zero transition. 

Demonstration of a digital tool

During the meeting, a live demonstration showcased a digital tool focused on transmission lines, towers, and subcomponents, offering a detailed view of operational data, faults, work orders, and inspections. Utilising IBM’s weather data, the digital tool incorporated over 30 variables, providing a granular analysis of weather patterns over a six-year history. The landing page offered insights into weather data associated with towers, exploring historical patterns to understand potential damages. 

Now halfway through Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) Alpha stage, NIMBUS has developed a high level plan and roadmap for a use case. It has also identified system requirements, created architecture for proof of concept and fed asset and weather data (from IBM) into its model.