The digital transition and its lessons for the energy sector

Digitalisation of data is happening across all sectors globally. It has become pivotal to developing, modernising and transforming sectors from banking to healthcare.

With COP26 on the horizon, a net zero target by 2050 enshrined in UK law and the sixth carbon budget aiming to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035, digitalisation is also essential in the energy sector. Millions of low carbon technologies will need to be integrated into the electricity networks and variable electricity from renewables such as solar and wind will need to be balanced second-by-second with demand. Active participation from consumers will be key to achieving net zero including using smart controls to shift their demand and exporting excess energy to the grid from rooftop solar generation for example. The facilitation of this enormous step change in the system’s ability to understand and react to these complex data flows is reliant on digitalisation. For a whole system approach, all parts of the energy system from demand and supply to markets and networks need to be digitalised.

Digitalisation in the technology sphere provides a useful model for the wider energy sector. It has opened up the opportunity for energy suppliers to move from a supply business model to a technology-focused model. Ovo Energy and Octopus Energy are prime examples of this with their Kaluza and Kraken cloud platforms, which they offer as products to other suppliers. The platforms allow for integration with a range of smart devices and use machine learning and AI to optimise devices to use energy when costs and carbon levels are lower. They also pave the way for the development of innovative products and more complex tariffs such as Octopus Energy’s Agile tariff and Ovo Energy’s Ovo Drive Anytime tariff. Such tech platforms enable digitalisation and integration of different aspects of energy supply, which, among their many benefits, improve customer engagement with the market and allow for decarbonisation through smart, low carbon technologies. The platforms also open up opportunities and learnings for digitalisation across the rest of the energy sector.

Digitalisation is one of many topics covered in the British Institute of Energy Economics (BIEE) Energy for a Net Zero Society conference sponsored by Cornwall Insight on 13-14 September.

Ahead of the British Institute of Energy Economics (BIEE) conference, our CEO, Gareth Miller who will be opening the conference, answers two crucial questions:

  1. What is the most important lesson we have learned from COVID-19 on how to bring consumers on the journey towards net zero?
  2. How can government build on that learning – what should be its next step in delivering the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan

Hear his answers in the video below:

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