This year, ElectraLink celebrates its 25th birthday. Set up by British electricity Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to provide a data transfer mechanism for the competitive energy market, ElectraLink has supported far-reaching industry change and advancement since the turn of the millennium. The organisation has also experienced its own change in form, focus and position to stay relevant and make an increasing impact in a rapidly changing industry.
Having worked with the Data Transfer Service (DTS) since the 1990s in various capacities, I have been part of ElectraLink’s transformation both externally and internally. Initially, ElectraLink’s remit was focused on delivery of the DTS to licensed market participants, but today it is a diverse organisation with a range of products and services that enable integration and data access to all those looking to thrive in this complex market.
I first became aware of the DTS and ElectraLink in my first permanent role in the energy industry. In 1997, I joined East Midlands Electricity as part of the ‘98 project helping to set up the processes that enabled the metering business to operate in the new competitive retail market. I soon learned to talk ‘data flow’ and spent a good few years up to my ears in D0155s, D0019s, D0011s, D0148s and all the rest. I did not anticipate that 25 years later I would be leading the company that enabled the transfer of all this data.
ElectraLink is almost unrecognisable now compared to the days of the first data flows. As well as becoming entrenched in GB code governance through our management of DCUSA, our product development is enabling innovators to drive value for customers and the data we provide access to is unlocking new routes to net zero.
The industry mandate ElectraLink received in 2012 to save a copy of every DTS data flow to store and analyse en masse made extensive insights available for the improvement of the market. We have since developed a collection of APIs to supply data to a range of organisations for use cases including innovation, communication, insight, customer success and positive change with the final goal being outcomes that benefit end customers.
We have also provided data to the likes of Ofgem, the Retail Energy Code Company, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, the Office for National Statistics, and our shareholders, the DNOs. These data provision capabilities have an impact beyond the energy market and signifies data for positive change as a key use case for data shared across the DTS.
Always looking to improve the technology, service and value-for-money ElectraLink customers enjoy, ElectraLink began migrating the DTS network from a virtual private cloud to Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) public cloud infrastructure in 2020. DTS users now experience:
- improved scalability with greater load capacity and storage space,
- improved performance with faster file transfer and processing,
- better cost returns as more data is cleared quicker therefore reducing the cost of individual data items,
- and other benefits such as increased security, operational efficiencies and improved resilience.
This technological shift futureproofed the DTS and is the correct platform for us to manage the changes to central systems that are coming down the line with the introduction of Half Hourly Settlement. As always, we will work with the other central bodies and our customers to ensure the transition to new, hybrid DTS-Data Integration Platform (DIP) arrangements is as smooth as possible by supporting both the central programmes and the needs of individual customers.
Beyond the official DIP go live planned for 2026, ElectraLink is also going to support DTS users with cloud-to-cloud connections, making use of real-time, API-driven data transfer that enables simpler, faster data processing with lower overheads.
Finally, ElectraLink’s years of data provision and analysis experience is being leveraged for the future through EMPRIS – the insights platform we developed with industry backing to support the Government and regulators in their market monitoring and consumer protections.
When combining DTS data with third party data, EMPRIS can serve a wider range of use cases and, depending on the external data acquired, can be used beyond energy industry concerns. EMPRIS democratises data and makes market intelligence accessible without users needing years of database querying and coding experience. It shows extra strength through visualisation tools for communicating insights with various stakeholders.
ElectraLink as an organisation has also changed over the years in our ways of working, corporate mission and vision, and values that are core to the entire team. As well as being early adopters of hybrid working, we have focused on fair recruitment practices and a welcoming culture to support equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
We now proudly have a workforce with 46 per cent of employees identifying as women and an EDI strategy that will propel us to become market leaders in the area. We are incredibly proud to be net zero, having carbon neutral accreditation since March 2022 and contributing to many global sustainability projects on top of achieving our own emissions reduction targets. We have also just achieved two-star “Outstanding” status from Best Companies after a recent employee survey, officially making ElectraLink a great place to work and validating our recent focus on behaviours.
ElectraLink wants to be the best place for professionals to start, build and grow in their careers, and making these fundamental changes to our organisation and culture sets us on a course to do the right thing and prepare us for years to come.
The energy market is currently volatile and predictions for the next year are bold. However, one thing is for sure and that is the growing need for data and digitalisation to fulfil new functions and processes in the market and facilitate net zero. We will continue to lead the charge in the development of data and digital solutions to help our customers to thrive whilst ensuring our commitments to delivering the core DTS service through a period of major change.
ElectraLink has changed and adapted constantly over the last 25 years, and I am really excited to be leading the team through even more change over the coming years.