Best Conference 2021


Digital disruption: how data creates a whole new ball game

Digitalisation is changing how we supply, buy, and interact with electricity. This means that data will become increasingly important to the everyday operations of utilities and their customers. For this reason, Eurelectric dedicated a Power Talk on Day 1 to how digital services are changing service offerings and business models along the entire electricity value chain, and what policy framework is best suited to support this evolution.  

Schneider Electric kicked off the discussion with a keynote from their Segment President for Power and Grid, Gary Lawrence. His presentation zeroed in on DSOs as an example of the digital technologies that can be deployed in pursuit of decarbonisation, labelling them the conductors of a new energy symphony, at the centre of a system involving ever more renewables, electrification, and prosumers.  

“In his words, data management is a key pillar in decarbonisation, but not one actor can do it alone, it needs a community” 

To offer a current stay of play on the policy side, Vincent Berrutto from DG ENER started by underling that “Digitalisation can create jobs and growth in Europe”, then he addressed the Commission’s Digitalisation Action Plan for the energy sector and how various policies and programmes are prepared to support the transition by addressing data access, investment needs, customer engagement, cyber security, and sustainability. The conversation then involved a panel of experts along three clear lines of questioning. 

First, how to develop an appropriate framework for renumerating the new activities of DSOs. This attracted comments from Solar Power Europe’s Naomi Chevillard who stated that if we want to push DSOs to actively pursue integration of renewables and prosumers it starts with a framework that sets better price signals and continues with support via modern cloud infrastructure. 

Second, what new business models are emerging and how can they support the transition. José Maria Torres, Head of Ormazabal’s Smart Grid Unit, intervened with a strong statement in support of data access, it will enable observability and automation of the network, without which new business models would be impossible. 

Third, how data-driven innovation can support the development of climate neutral solutions. Here Huawei’s VP Europe, Michael Fraise, cited their latest efforts to make data centres as efficient as possible via introduction of automation technologies and incorporation of onsite solar and battery. 

Regarding the audience, some strong preferences emerged. In terms of policy priorities they believed the Commission should focus on policies that enhance uptake of new digital services, and that inspiration for such new technologies were most likely to be found in the financial sector.