The energy transition, in which the world is moving from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption towards more sustainable systems, characterized by renewable and decentralized sources of consumption and supply, has led to various challenges. One of these significant challenges is adequately addressing the flexibility requirements, both on the grid and supply sides. Fortunately, the increasing availability and intermittent disruption of technologies have facilitated the emergence of new market models, enabling smaller and decentral actors to access the system – not only for utilities and its connected market parties but also for regulators and legal entities.
Data Access Management (DAM) at the center of the global energy transition dialogue
At the center of the global energy transition and digitalization dialogue, data management has become an urgent topic for utilities and their connected market parties, regulators, and legal entities. In Europe, the EU Commission issued the Clean Energy for All Europeans package that explicitly gives consumers the right to access and share their energy data. In Saudi Arabia, the National Data Management and Protection Framework have a similar approach adapted to its local requirements. In South-East Asia, several initiatives were launched over the years, starting from Malaysia, where the National Big Data Analytics (BDA) Framework intends to create a national BDA ecosystem to further enhance economic growth. Notwithstanding the many initiatives worldwide, a significant effort still needs to be made to implement the enactments and programs.
Digitalization in the energy sector: the example of e-mobility
Future green ecosystem scenarios are mainly characterized by large amounts of renewable energy sources (RES) generation units installed close to the consumption location. Another significant feature of these scenarios is the heavy electrification of transportation. With electrification, new technical units enter the energy system, such as heat pumps, small-scale batteries, and electric vehicles. It allows market participants to co-optimize green energy generation and –usage. As a result, system costs and CO2 emissions are reduced. However, to unleash the potential of these units, data has to be provided and shared with market parties.
Let’s take the example of electro-mobility: the amount of electric vehicles (EVs) is increasing strongly. Since each vehicle is equipped with a small-scale battery, a swarm of them provides a huge energy storage potential in the system. The unique characteristic of EV batteries is their mobility (compared to the immobility of most of the energy sources) and their strong dependence on the users’ driving behavior. Therefore, the data from the EVs are crucial for business models of the charging point operators, energy pool aggregators and system operators. On the other hand, data access intervenes strongly with the concept of data privacy. EV users are keen on keeping their data private. They do not want that their mobility behavior leaked. As a result, the data access must be regulated clearly between the involved parties (EV users, charging point operators, system operators). However, data access is not only limited to data acquisition (e.g., availability when a car is charged, battery’s state-of-charge). It is also related to the capability to steer and optimize the charging process when needed (e.g., shifting the load to a low-price period for frequency control, congestion management and demand response).
Data Access Management and consumer centricity
Data is the new fuel, enabling our countries to surmount the current problems caused by climate change by creating a full stack of services and optimizing energy production and consumption on the other. For the energy transition, a contribution of all parties, large and small, will be required. On the other hand, consumers want more tailored services to their needs and are becoming an integer part of the system. This cocktail is explosive, but the opportunities are enormous. In the ideal world, consumers would benefit from securely exposing their energy data and (automatically) respond to signals on price or availability of renewable energy, always keeping their comfort levels high.
The important role of Smart Metering
Since consumers’ participation in demand-side response becomes more technologically feasible and necessary to support the transition, smart metering systems become widespread, at least in the ambition.
The functioning of the smart metering systems is directly related to the collection and processing of large volumes of consumers’ data, whose major part is personal. This data is collected from every connection point, including household and electric vehicle data. Thus, given the importance of data for a successful energy transition, a number of questions need to be addressed:
- What are the relevant use or business cases?
- Is there a legal framework that regulates the use and management of (personal) energy data?
- What are the opportunities related to that regulatory framework and where can I position myself?
- What are the different roles to own, operate, control or manage consumer energy data?
- How can the process be kept simple and avoid putting a burden on a specific party?
The new role of system operators in the digitalization of the energy sector
On top of system operators’ “traditional” roles to ensure system security, reliability and efficiency of the grid, system operators are now becoming data managers.
But what does it mean to manage data in the transmission and distribution industry from a regulatory perspective?
- First, local and national regulations have to be reconsidered. The Data Privacy and Data Protection legislation must be taken into account in defining the new role of the system operator.
The main issue arises with smart metering devices’ roll-out and the slow (but steady) development of the smart grid in many countries. This development allows TSOs to access a broad set of highly granular data, almost real-time, to perform their duties more efficiently. However, smart meters data can be personal and trigger the application of different and stricter protective regimes.
- Second, in order to assist consumers’ active participation in the electricity markets, smart metering systems deployed by different countries within or outside of the EU should be interoperable. To that end, market stakeholders should have due regard to the use of relevant available standards, including standards that enable interoperability on the level of the data model, the application layer and the best available practices.
Galatsanou Eirini, Sindermann Josephine
EGI, Practice Regulation & Markets