Harness the power of data

Data will enable the innovation that the energy industry is seeking, empowering firms as they journey through the energy transition. Deriving the right insight from data will pave the road ahead for players in the energy value chain looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

The energy industry needs to prove their commitment by monitoring their carbon emissions and showing declining emissions at a rate to match. Yet while the energy industry is working towards ambitious targets set out by the UK government, accurate monitoring of performance against net zero goals remains a challenge.

Towards unified emissions reporting

The industry is taking steps to address the challenge of data standardisation. The Open Group – a global consortium that enables the achievement of business objectives through technology standards – launched the Open Footprint Forum in August 2020, with the aim to increase accuracy and transparency around industry measurement and reporting of environmental footprint data.17 The forum currently consists of over fifteen organisations covering multiple sectors, including Shell, Equinor, BP and Chevron.

As data on carbon emissions is located across supply chains, the need for organisations to share data across the energy value chain is vital if companies are to accurately track their emissions. To this end, the Open Footprint Forum is creating an open-source based system which will be accessible to all organisations.18

New technologies are emerging which cater to the need to improve carbon reporting, both internally and in the overall supply chain. Accounting for existing emissions data associated with trade flows is a major step in the energy transition. The CarbonChain platform allows companies working across the energy industry to track their supply chain carbon emissions, empowering them to manage their transition to the low-carbon economy.19

Data sharing in the networks space

An open, flexible data sharing architecture will underpin the energy transition. In 2019, the Energy Data Taskforce advised that Energy System Data should be “Discoverable, Searchable, Understandable’, with common ‘Structures, Interfaces and Standards”.20 This has now been followed up with the launch of the Energy Digitalisation Taskforce in 2021.

Plans to harness open data are already in motion in the networks space. Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has stated that open data will be a catalyst for change in the industry and UK Power Networks have established a partnership with the Open Data Institute Leeds. The networks operator plans to harness open data relating to energy usage to enable decision-making across the energy ecosystem, drive innovation, improve asset performance and drive down costs for consumers.21

Open data

Once aggregated, data needs to be made open through a trusted data platform. UK Power Networks has done just that – with its DSO Dashboard offering live insights into power usage across local electricity networks. The dashboard will help renewable firms locate new projects by highlighting where capacity is available. Researchers and industry users will also be able to use the data to test theoretical models with the aim of finding innovative ways to unlock new capacity in the network.22

Intelligent tools create new pathways to Net Zero

Having effectively harnessed their data, the energy industry is faced with the task of making it actionable. Intelligent digital tools and solutions – such as data capture and predictive analytics – are emerging to help energy players extract value from their data, thereby reducing carbon emissions across the value chain.

Intelligent Assets and Networks will be needed across the whole energy system to address Net Zero goals. Within the upstream oil and gas industry, for example, the use of digital sensors will be able to gather emissions data more accurately, while prompting more timely interventions – reducing the unintended release of GHG emissions.23

Understanding the ‘green’ consumer

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their carbon footprint, with demand for ‘green products’ on the rise. Smart energy products and services, such as smart thermostats, EV charging points and home energy monitors, are empowering consumers to achieve their decarbonisation goals – while also saving money on bills.

Although most traditional utilities are poorly setup to understand changes in consumer behaviour, the situation is evolving fast. The energy retail ‘winners’ will be those that rapidly leverage data on consumer behaviour to understand buying behaviours and embed analytics and insight in the products they create.