The whole energy system and digital transformation are priorities in need of a “significantly greater” innovation focus, National Grid ESO has said.
It released a refreshed innovation strategy for 2020/21 on 26 March. In this, it outlined that while the three major drivers shaping Great Britain’s energy sector – decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation – remain unchanged, there is now a fourth emerging driver that has been added to them in democratisation. This is as consumers, businesses and communities become more involved than ever due to the changing nature of the energy market.
The strategy also detailed a significant increase in the two priorities of the whole energy system and digital transformation moving forwards.
On the whole energy system, it explained the ongoing conversation on the decarbonisation of heat and transport, combined with electricity systems’ increased reliance on gas for flexibility offer a “crucial opportunity” to consider the energy system as a whole, across multiple vectors and the sectors this supports. Innovation focus here will seek to identify and tackle the critical uncertainties around how different vectors and sectors will interact and behave as the UK moves to net zero, with particular attention on electricity, gas, heat and transport.
The digitalisation and decentralisation of the energy sector, meanwhile, come with many challenges. With regards to this digital transformation, the ESO’s innovation focus when it comes to digital transformation will look to address the recommendations of the Energy Data Taskforce; work with distribution network colleagues to facilitate more open data across the whole electricity system; and explore technology platforms to effectively store, use and exchange much higher volumes of data and services, including portals and cloud computing.