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by Gill Nowell, DSO Lead

Energy comes in all shapes and sizes, and even more so in recent years. Solar panels are now a common sight, littering our roof tops and lounging in vast arrays on the ground. Electric vehicles are on the rise on our roads, in their silent bid to combat air pollution and reduce carbon emissions. National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios 2018 (FES 2018) predict that there will be up to 36 million electric vehicles on UK roads by 2040. Electric cars can easily double household demand, and when we see clusters emerge, this poses a challenge for the grid. Our ageing electricity networks – and I mean at a local level, so those underground cables and overhead lines that distribute electricity to our homes and small businesses – were built with neither new generation, nor new demand, in mind.

The need for our energy networks to be managed in a more flexible, customer-centric way, is the catalyst for the transition that the GB’s Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) are making to Distribution System Operators (DNOs).

I’m one month into my new role with ElectraLink as DSO Lead, and I’m loving it. ElectraLink delivers network services, governance services, and energy market insights to the UK energy industry. We are at the centre of a complex market with a range of stakeholders including Ofgem, BEIS, energy suppliers, energy distribution companies and energy service organisations. My job is to maximise and make available the benefits of the ElectraLink dataset to DNOs, as they move to DSOs. The dataset is a treasure trove of energy data. It holds every market transaction in relation to smart meter installations, change of supplier events… it offers a view of over 90% of all embedded generation on the network. With a little innovation, it can be used to spot electric vehicle trends, be used to streamline customer processes, underpin embedded generation / distributed energy resources reporting, and support emerging flexibility services.

The dataset’s USP is that its governance is entirely robust and secure. As the Energy Market Data Hub (EMDH), it offers an infrastructure that can be used by DNOs / DSOs and innovators alike to test and deliver new projects and services.

And as I heard at a DNO-DSO event recently, data sits at the heart of the transformation of our energy networks. This is supported by FES 2018 (p.5), which notes that data and information flows will become increasingly critical across the whole energy industry, as for example the growth of electric vehicles goes hand in hand with electricity decarbonisation.

I find myself with an unshakeable passion for electric vehicles, largely as a result of working on ground breaking energy innovation projects at EA Technology, such as My Electric Avenue and Electric Nation, since 2012. With the recent announcement of UK Government’s Road to Zero Strategy, and the National Infrastructure Commission Assessment 2018, I look forward to opening up dialogue with anyone who anticipates a need for access to energy data to support the drive to zero emission and low carbon – it could be as simple as working with us to pre-populate a form with an MPAN to support the electric vehicle charge point installation process. Or, it could be working with us to extract smart meter installation data, using AI and cognitive analytics to streamline processes and reduce costs. Or, you may want to ask us for data on all solar PV generation for the last six years in a certain geographical location. I’m rapidly learning that the possibilities are endless.

If you’d like to find out more, or if you have an idea for an innovation project, please get in touch – [email protected] or on Twitter @Gill_Nowell.

You’ll find ElectraLink on Twitter @electralink