EUSEW: Digitalisation will drive energy efficiency

New data sources emerging from digital technologies can be used to deliver significant efficiency gains, but only if barriers are removed.
Published: Mon 17 Jun 2019

A well-functioning energy market that maximises efficiency opportunities must provide timely and fair access to data for retailers. Smart meter rollouts across Europe have the potential to unlock information on consumption patterns, but if privacy laws prevent access to that data, it will be much more difficult to provide services.

This will be a key message to be delivered this week at a conference on digitalisation in the energy market as part of the EU Sustainable Energy Week. With an ever-increasing reliance on unpredictable sources of generation, automatic communication between consumers, prosumers, retailers and system operators to schedule flexible load when the network is congested will be key to optimal system management. “Retailers have to have fair access to data and a level playing field without favourable access for the DSO.” said Michele Governatori, institutional and regulatory affairs director at Axpo Italia and president of the European Energy Retailers (EER) Association.

For example in Spain customers can access their data more quickly via the DSO website than their retailer’s website, although it is the retailer providing the energy service to them. “We need to make it as easy as possible for the customer to let the retailer use its data on its behalf, otherwise it will be impossible to provide an effective energy service,” Governatori said.

 

The EU’s Clean Energy Package stresses the need for easy and non-discriminatory access to data and interoperability of the data, and a Free Flow of Data Package came into force last month aiming to enable new services based on this data. But privacy issues remain a concern. While the GDPR regulation excludes smart meters, the forthcoming e-privacy law does not. EER and others are campaigning for energy data to be excluded from the e-privacy law. “Data is essential to deliver energy service,” Governatori said.

Digitalisation has the potential to deliver energy savings of 67% by 2050 if maximised efficiently, or just 32% in a scenario where barriers are not overcome, according to a report from a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for System and Innovation Research ISI, commissioned by the Coalition for Energy Savings, who will both have representatives speaking at next week’s event.

Digital technologies are enabling energy efficiency to play a more central role within the energy system, in keeping with the EU’s goal of putting energy efficiency measures first in the pursuit of decarbonisation. But global progress on energy efficiency is slowing, according to the IEA. The growth rate in energy demand doubled in 2018 compared with the average growth since 2010, while global carbon emissions were up nearly 2% last year.  The IEA’s Kathleen Gaffney will present on the agency’s recent workshop on Modernising Energy Efficiency through Digitalisation at the EUSEW event. The IEA is also developing an online resource on digitalization and energy efficiency as part of its Global Exchange for Energy Efficiency, which will be launched during the 4th annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Dublin, Ireland on 24th and 25th June.