Enabling the energy transition through data and technology

The path to net zero carbon emissions requires a complex balancing act – rapidly decarbonising energy infrastructure while retaining affordability and resilience.

An outright halt to carbon-intensive activities may achieve decarbonisation goals, but is unrealistic and lacks nuance. Conversely, a groundswell of sustainable, green technologies – from heat pumps to EV charging – has the potential to overload those energy grids that lack capacity.

To effectively navigate this challenge, enhanced energy resilience is critical at a national, local and organisational level. Energy resilience entails comprehensively analysing, optimising, flexing and balancing energy demand, storage, export and import. Unlocking this capability necessitates data utilisation and advanced data science transforming insights into action.

Tangibly, how can public and private sector entities embed resilience within net zero strategies to facilitate a green transition? SSE Digital Services’ energy technology solutions are helping pave the way.

Data-driven flexibility for UK energy demand

Our Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) solution is part of a collective initiative which adds flexibility to the UK grid by moderating peaks in energy demand. Fundamental to the programme is benchmarking individual household and business consumption via half-hourly usage data.

From personalised baselines, consumers then earn rewards for purposefully lowering usage, with an organisation’s evolving energy profile and savings tracked. As the initiative concludes its second year, a data-led approach towards energy usage is becoming evermore embedded – with energy users increasingly understanding their distinct usage patterns and how demand can be adjusted accordingly.

Identical data principles enable flexing of onsite storage, export and grid import to assist organisations in decreasing costs, reducing carbon intensity and mitigating risks.

Optimisation and forecasting through energy platforms

To complement existing distributed solutions like national heating and cooling networks, SSE’s technology platforms can elevate resilience. Historically operating on fixed schedules and pricing, recent geopolitical instability necessitates optimisation to counter volatility.

We now need control to optimise heating and cooling networks to respond to changing market conditions, including higher energy prices and variable energy tariffs. We also need to optimise and flex operations to lower the demand on the grid at peak times or import energy when the carbon intensity is low or, alternatively, take advantage of new opportunities to export energy to the grid or participate in services such as DFS.

At SSE Digital Services, we’ve constructed digital twin replicas of real-world heating and cooling networks, underpinned by data exchange between virtual and physical infrastructures. Analysis of historical operational data using machine learning generates enhanced strategies lowering costs. In practice, this entails exploiting onsite storage when importing energy is expensive while boosting onsite generation for exporting when tariffs are high.

Additionally, forecasting facilitates adaptation to future fluctuations. By processing past consumption patterns and energy pricing using AI, optimal week-ahead operating schedules can be recommended. For heat network managers, our dashboards visually track recommended versus manual actions, enabling ongoing optimisation per site priorities.

Already emerging are substantial savings – digital optimisation of four SSE heat networks is projected to reduce operating expenses by £350,000 annually – achieved by optimising interrelations between onsite generation, storage, export and import.

Resilience to power the energy transition

Data and analytics are already optimising our distributed assets through technology platforms. All organisations must follow suit – flexing and smoothing peaks in generation, storage and import enables exploiting services like Demand Flexibility while progressing decarbonisation.

The path to net zero requires enhanced energy resilience. As we rapidly transition to electrification and decentralisation of energy infrastructure, flexibility and optimisation will be critical to maintain affordability, maximise sustainability, and ensure grid stability. 

SSE Digital Services provides the data science and optimisation platforms needed to embed resilience within net zero strategies. Our solutions enable organisations to comprehensively analyse, flex, balance, and optimise energy demand, storage, export and import.

We invite energy stakeholders across the private and public sectors to contact our experts today to discuss how our customised offerings can unlock the resilience and flexibility needed to power your organisation’s transition to net zero emissions. Together, through data and technology, we can accelerate the journey to net zero and build the energy infrastructure of the future.

Find out more at SSE Digital Services here: Digital Services | SSE Energy Solutions | Distributed energy infrastructure

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