Due to the increasing complexity of the UK utilities market, ElectraLink’s offering has similarly expanded in a short amount of time to be able to provide solutions for some of the market’s toughest challenges and to continue to support the growth of competition.
However, with the landscape changing so quickly and with the sources of information growing by the day, it can be easy to lose track and for misconceptions to flourish so we have created this short guide to help sort the fact from the fiction. Each Mythbuster tackles a misconception we have heard from clients, customers or industry colleagues who have wanted to know more about what we can offer.
Adding additional data onto the Data Transfer Service (DTS) does not increase the cost to industry because the DTS is embedded within a fixed cost, scalable, cloud-based infrastructure which increases in size according to the requirements of the data flowing through it. In fact, as the volume of traffic increases, the cost per transaction decreases.
It would be easy to assume that when traffic increases in the DTS, the amount paid for use of the DTS will increase accordingly. This is not true. The underlying costs of the DTS are broadly fixed and do not increase in proportion to usage, as the Energy Market Data Hub (EMDH) is extensible and flexible – with horizontal and vertical scaling options available to support the new data volume throughout. Therefore, as the volume of traffic increases, the unit charge reduces — the more the DTS is used, the less it costs per transaction — therefore removing cost-shock relating to increased or uncertain data volumes.
Once a party has established what data they require from the DTS dataset, it can take as little as 15 working days to get an agreement to share industry data.
In 2012, ElectraLink was granted permission to access the data that is transferred across the DTS under the governance of the Data Transfer Services Agreement (DTSA). With this appropriate governance in place, we can provide this data to industry parties with consent from the DTS User Group within 15 days, provided there are no objections or further information needed from the DTS User Group. To emphasise, we are very careful in ensuring that any personal data is only provided to companies that have a right in law to that data.
Even though the DTS has been operating successfully for 20 years, the technology it is built upon and utilises is constantly evolving to ensure it is not only fit for purpose as requirements develop, but is also a platform for innovation. The DTS has also recently been through a re-procurement process in order to re-develop the whole platform to ensure it remains at the cutting edge.
Throughout ElectraLink’s 20 years of management of the DTS, we have always looked at ways in which to improve the DTS, ensuring that it continues to evolve to meet the needs of industry and provides solutions to new industry issues as they arise.
In 2019, ElectraLink ran a re-procurement process, answering industry’s call for innovation and transformation of the DTS. This re-procurement process will move the DTS onto our new platform, the EMDH, which is hosted on public cloud infrastructure with additional services for users to make use of our data lake and transform the way industry data is consumed. This re-procurement will pave the way for the DTS to support the needs of the market for the next 20 years, ensuring it is:
- A platform for innovation: Leveraging modern cloud-based services, the EMDH is a scalable, flexible platform to provide the solutions, data and insights our customers need when they need them. Innovators will be able to use the EMDH as a platform for innovation.
- Fit for now: The EMDH will continue to provide the products and services that our customers rely on today. This includes the webtools for file maintenance and
transfer, as well as reports to ensure secure industry communication.
- Fit for the future: The EMDH will provide dashboards, critical operational reports and additional data access functionality including web services.
- Designed for security: Central to the design of the EMDH is a service that is secure, ensuring appropriate access control protection of industry data.
- Timely data: The EMDH is event driven, ensuring our customers receive information on industry processes when they happen.
- Tailored: The EMDH will be configurable. Our customers will be able to tailor the platform to operate in ways that best suits their business.
- Integrated: The EMDH is the platform for the continued integration of new actors into the market. It is a facilitator of new partnerships, allowing participants to connect in new ways using the EMDH.
The DTS is run by the DTS User Group which agrees changes to the governance of the DTS; these changes can take as little as one month. The types of changes that can be made range from the services that ElectraLink can provide to the parties who can sign up to the DTSA.
ElectraLink has ensured that as data sharing requirements continue to evolve to deliver market transformation the DTS has facilitated this evolution. ElectraLink has achieved this through flexible governance arrangements. Although the market actors and their requirements have changed since the establishment of the DTS, due to the flexible governance arrangements within the DTSA, the DTS, the make up of the DTS User Group and its remit (such as the expansion to include data analytics services) have been able to change with industry as required. Ofgem has overseen this process to ensure the validity of any changes made.
Changes to the DTSA can take as little as one month, whilst incremental changes to the system underpinning the DTS made to improve its services (such as the introduction of FlowBuilder) are factored into the five-year budget, to allow ElectraLink to proactively manage incremental changes without unnecessary delays.