What energy data is of most interest and why?

What energy data is of most interest and why?
Image: Energy Systems Catapult

More and higher resolution data on Britain’s energy system is the demand of users of National Grid Electricity Distribution’s ‘presumed open’ datasets.

In a review of the use of the data from the utility’s Connected Data Portal, the Energy Systems Catapult has found the most common data downloads were on distribution demand, network assets and low carbon technology or generators connected to the distribution network.

In conjunction with the currently available data, data users were also requesting National Grid Electricity Distribution about making more data openly available. Most commonly, accounting for two-thirds of the new data access requests, this comprised data on network assets and generation.

Moreover, users are requesting that data should be half hourly or more granular where this is possible.

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National Grid Electricity Distribution implemented the Connected Data Portal as a centralised repository for all of its data that can be shared openly under the ‘presumed open data’ principle.

Presumed open data

Presumed open data as a data best practice has become a regulatory requirement for all network operators in Britain, with implementation from April 2023.

In this context, the principle of ‘presumed open data’ is that data must be made available for people to use, unless there is a specific reason for needing to reduce its availability, e.g. to protect individuals’ rights to privacy.

The Connected Data Portal currently holds 93 datasets in six data groups – connections to the distribution network including smart metering data, historic and real time demand, network flexibility, future energy scenarios, innovation and network assets and system operation.

Current popular datasets listed on the portal include the constraint management zone polygons, fault level data from monitors installed in the FlexDGrid innovation project and transformer flows in the West Midlands.

New datatsets also are being added, with recent ones including shapefiles of the 132kV substations and the 66kV pole mounted substations and the load disconnection rota.

Data users

The Energy Systems Catapult study, which was aimed to investigate the value of open data to users, reports that in the period from January to August 2022, there were 45,902 visitors including innovators, industry players and academics to the Connected Data Portal and 893,650 dataset downloads.

Among examples of a wide range of users and applications, the India-based data analytics startup OrxaGrid developed a product providing optimised charging/discharging profiles of batteries to reduce the impact of connecting electric vehicles to the grid.

Another is an industrial respondent, a large generator, which required community and geographical data to underpin plans for the regeneration of a decommissioned energy site into a net zero hub.

A third, an academic user, used secondary substation data to which machine learning was applied to create teaching resources applicable to the wider power system.

In terms of putting value to the data, Energy Systems Catapult reports that some users found it difficult to articulate a monetary value but of those who did, most were in the up to £15,000 and up to £50,000 per year groups.

The range suggests “a non-trivial benefit” to the organisations using the data to develop their products and services, says the report.

Data granularity, timeliness and visibility were some of the concerns raised by users about the data availability, while academics noted the value of real data for driving impactful research.

The need for historical data for use alongside current data also was highlighted as was the need for long term development statement data as critical for modelling and investment decision-making.