Our third REACT* advisory group meeting took place on Wednesday March 6th, securing broad participation from the energy sector with hydrogen developers, water companies and data companies all in attendance. Participation like this is crucial to ensure a diverse range of feedback on our recommendations and on the REACT tool.

The REACT tool is a geographical planning tool, providing users with an interactive visualisation map to view electricity grid requests in real time. Its purpose is to provide support for early stage project development, with features such as land sensitivities helping developers select optimal sites and ultimately helping them connect to the grid. 

During the meeting, a demo of the REACT tool was presented to members and a collective recognition began to form around the value that the tool could provide to the hydrogen market. ‘We have a number of businesses interested from a grid and planning point of view’ one member noted. The potential value of the tool reaches far beyond the hydrogen sector however, and looking forward, it aims to bring in environmental agencies, transmission operators, wind power developers, water companies and more. 

Data sensitivity & Trust Frameworks

Concerns were raised regarding the access and use of sensitive data, particularly in the case of data on critical national infrastructure. One AG member asked ‘how do we make sure the data is not used by the wrong people, for the wrong reasons’. Trust Frameworks offer an answer to these warranted concerns and are particularly important in the case of the REACT project, where secure and reliable data exchange is critical. Trust Frameworks ensure that all parties involved can trust the confidentiality of the data exchanged and the authenticity of the identities involved. What’s more, as the project extends its scope, looking to other sectors, use cases, and datasets, Trust Frameworks offer a powerful solution, joining stakeholders from different ecosystems. 


We presented our five recommendations on how to transform the data network to our advisory group members: 

  1. Embracing market-scale solutions: To ensure REACT’s solution has the widest possible applicability across the market, REACT’s Advisory Group(s) should work closely with Open Energy’s Steering Group to promote accessibility, agree common rules, processes and legal compliance and encourage a common rights-based approach to data access.
  1. Reducing friction: To improve data assurance, reduce friction across data silos and provide forward compatibility with the Virtual Energy System, the REACT project should embrace a ‘Trust Framework’ methodology throughout its work.
  1. Improving data accessibility: To improve the discoverability of datasets and encourage process innovation, Transmission Owners are advised to publish internal process diagrams that describe the workings of complicated internal processes – such as the Network Connection Request process.
  1. Improving prediction: To improve long-term planning – both for Transmission Owners and for other stakeholders – a statistical model of projects should be embraced that tracks a project’s estimated probability of success according to the best available data.
  1. Embracing innovation: To radically embrace innovation around processes – such as the Network Connection Request process – virtual ‘sandbox’ representations of these processes with representative data should be created. This will enable innovators to safely experiment with innovative solutions without affecting Business as Usual.

Feedback on recommendations

With reforms in the connection process slated for January 2025, stakeholders in the energy industry are facing mounting challenges. In light of this, concerns were raised regarding the feasibility of implementing a virtual sandbox (recommendation 5), given the workload of Transmission Network Operators (TNOs) and Distribution Network Operators (DNOs). Icebreaker One’s technical analyst, Stefan Haselwimmer, acknowledged this challenge, emphasising the need for maximum innovation with minimal workload.

In fact, the recommendations presented above have been put together with the pressures facing stakeholders in mind. In a landscape where approximately 420GW of generation projects await grid connection, timely connectivity remains a bottleneck in our net zero transition. We believe the REACT project could be the catalyst required to unlock these grid connections making for a smoother and faster transition. Now, as we look ahead to the next phase of REACT, the potential avenues for exploration are vast, with data centres, storage projects and direct air capture all cited as potential future use cases. 

*The REACT project is funded by the Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), the SIF is delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.”