Ove Arup to explore energy system ‘digital spine’

Ove Arup & Partners has won a £186,000 contract to carry out a feasibility study assessing the feasibility of a ‘digital spine’ concept for the energy system.
The ‘digital spine’ is defined by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as a framework of technical processes and defined governance roles and responsibilities that allow the exchange of energy system data in a secure and interoperable manner. It was a key recommendation of the Energy Data Task Force to deliver a smart, flexible energy system.
BEIS said the study will explore open-source, distributed solutions for exchange of energy system data, including definition/scope options analysis, stakeholder engagement, security and operability implications, user journeys, and costs. The six-month study will establish the needs case for the ‘digital spine’ and its benefits to a smart, flexible, decarbonised energy system; understand its potential scope; consider and the data infrastructure required to deliver it; and assess the costs of different scope options.
BEIS said as more intermittent sources of generation (such as solar and wind) come onto the energy system and there are more smart technologies that make use of low carbon energy it expects new software, systems and platforms to emerge. Fast energy data exchange will be of growing importance and interoperability could reduce the cost of the energy transition but currently there are just a small number of siloed legacy digital and data systems in place. It identifies risks a risk that digital infrastructure develops in an uncoordinated way and a lack of common frameworks could lead to inefficient and costly bilateral data sharing. From a security viewpoint, lack of a common framework could allow commercial capture of core national data transfer infrastructure, which would have energy and cyber security implications as a result.
Finally, BEIS says without clear responsibilities on those that provide data-driven services, commercial organisations may not have obligations to protect energy system users or stakeholders.
The ‘digital spine’ feasibility study is within BEIS’s £65 million Flexibility Innovation Programme, which seeks to enable large-scale widespread electricity system flexibility through smart, flexible, secure, and accessible technologies and markets.