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Why data is critical to fueling the future of the European energy sector [Promoted content]

8 months ago 58

Globally, the energy sector faces key challenges that are fundamentally disrupting the industry and how it operates. It is at the forefront of decarbonization, looking to move away from fossil fuel power generation to renewables while effectively balancing supply and demand and enabling its customers to become more sustainable. It must digitalize to become more efficient and agile, all while meeting the changing needs of customers, especially as they adopt electric vehicles (EVs) and generate their own power through solar panels and wind turbines. Regulatory imperatives are tightening, especially in Europe, while investors and wider society are increasingly holding energy players to account on their progress towards Net Zero and sustainability goals.

Jean-Marc Lazard is the Co-founder & CEO of Opendatasoft.

To meet these challenges, companies in the energy sector need to completely transform how they operate. They need to move from today’s one-way relationship with customers, built on a transactional supply chain, to a more complex, ecosystem approach that involves all players and enables them to work together to achieve Net Zero goals while ensuring security of supply.

The importance of data to energy sector transformation

Data is the essential fuel for this transition, enabling greater efficiency, more agile decision-making, and increased transparency, all while unlocking closer collaboration and boosting innovation. To help companies embrace best practice Opendatasoft, E.DSO, and GEODE have teamed up to organize an exclusive, free event. Being held in Brussels on December 6, the Energy Data Summit Europe brings the ecosystem together to learn, network and explore new opportunities for collaboration.

Data sharing brings its own challenges – energy companies are creating more data than ever before, from more sources inside and outside the organization. Everything from Internet of Things (IoT) sensor data to asset monitoring, customer/smart meter and operational data needs to be collected, processed, centralized, and made available to the right people at the right time. Data must be high quality, reliable, and trustworthy, while following governance processes and meeting privacy standards. 

Senior management across the energy sector understands the benefits of increased data sharing. In fact, new research from Opendatasoft, E.DSO and GEODE found that 100% of energy players believe data sharing will enable them to become more efficient and deliver more affordable services, 98% say it will drive digital transformation, 96% see it as part of increasing transparency and strengthening relationships with external stakeholders while 88% believe it will increase innovation.

However, while they recognize the benefits, energy companies often struggle to become truly data centric. In many cases data is currently siloed within different parts of the organization, available solely to specific teams or departments. It does not circulate across the business or externally with partners, or citizens, and cannot be accessed or reused by non-specialists without data analysis skills.

Our research shows that some progress is being made – 77% of energy companies say they have the financial resources in place to fund data sharing programs. However, nearly three-quarters (73%) have encountered obstacles to success, especially around tools and culture.

The importance of data portals

Overcoming these challenges is vital to unlock the benefits of data, both for energy players themselves and to drive wider decarbonization. Led from the top, companies need to embrace best practice from across the sector and from other industries, breaking down silos and effectively sharing their data to make it fully accessible to employees, partners, stakeholders, customers, and regulators in formats that they understand and can work with, without requiring technical skills. 

To achieve these goals mature energy players are democratizing data sharing through user-friendly self-service data portals that bring together all data assets in a single, accessible, and intuitive space, enabling internal and external collaboration. 

Essentially data portals act as a gateway to an organization’s data, democratizing access and its use and reuse. Portals connect data supply and user demand in a single, accessible location. To drive usage, they must be easy and seamless for every user across the energy ecosystem to search for, access, reuse, and benefit from data, without requiring specialist training or skills. The experience has to be as straightforward as buying something from an ecommerce site.

When it comes to the data they offer, portals should meet the specific needs of users, whether internal or external. That means engaging with the wider energy community, understanding their needs, and providing them with trustworthy data in formats that they can readily use without in-depth training. Understand that different audiences have different levels of data understanding, so it is vital that organizations make it compelling and relevant through tailored data visualizations that bring information alive via dashboards, maps, and data stories.

Successful data portals enable energy companies to build an ecosystem around their data, sharing it both with existing audiences and new ones, such as local government, prosumers, energy generators, housing developers, and providers of EV charging stations. This delivers greater collaboration, enables the creation of new services, and quickens the energy transition. 

To overcome its pressing challenges the European energy sector must embrace radical transformation in order to decarbonize, digitalize, and ensure security of supply. This can only be achieved by harnessing data, making sharing it both internally and across wider ecosystems a priority in order to enable better decision making, closer collaboration, greater efficiency, and increased transparency. 

Accelerating data sharing across the European energy sector 

Learn more by attending the Energy Data Summit Europe, which will bring together players from across the European energy sector, including Distribution System Operators (DSOs), Transmission System Operators (TSOs) and energy producers. 

Industry leaders, including Isabelle Kocher de Leyritz, ex-CEO of Engie, Jose Ferrari Careto, CEO of E-Redes, Hans Kreisel, CEO of Nordion Energi, and Matt Webb, Chief Data Officer of UK Power Networks, will share best practices and their views on next steps for the industry. Participants will have the chance to network with their peers, to explore new ways to accelerate data sharing and to foster the future of the European energy industry.

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