The energy ecosphere is diverse and complicated, and encompasses a wide variety of stakeholders, producers, distributors, governments, and end-users. With the expansion of data collection points throughout the entire energy cycle, there is huge potential to transform the way we live in terms of developing a clean energy economy, reducing costs, and delivering better service. Grid data sharing is the key that can unlock this potential.
Why grid data sharing is important
Most of the world has agreed to reduce carbon emissions in order to prevent future environmental catastrophe. There are numerous factors that will impact this drive to reduce emissions, including incorporating new, cleaner sources of energy, improving grid efficiency, and reducing unnecessary usage. However, these changes don’t have to come at the cost of higher prices or poorer service delivery. In fact, it’s the opposite — better planning, greater efficiency, and cheaper energy sources can lower prices, provide higher ROI, and improve service for end-users.
Grid data sharing can enable all of this. Here are some of the ways how:
- Incorporating DERs: The future of energy production is one that moves away from a centralized generation system towards one that incorporates distributed energy resources (DERs) into the power grid. This requires an overhaul of the previous, one-way flow of energy and data into a two-way flow system that can include energy production from all sources, including smaller wind or solar producers.
- Improved infrastructure provision: A clean energy economy should maximize energy efficiency without cutting supply. This requires energy infrastructure that provides the most utility to the maximum number of people while also reducing infrastructure installation and maintenance costs. Grid data sharing allows holders of various data sets to combine their data to arrive at the optimum, most efficient infrastructure solutions.
- Energy innovation: At the heart of the drive to deliver the electrification of everything and at the same time a low or zero-carbon world is technological innovation. Private companies and academic institutions all over the world are researching how to create, distribute, and use energy better. Grid data sharing empowers this work by expanding access to large and valuable datasets that can point the way to greater energy efficiency.
- Customer self-monitoring: The more customers know about how they’re using energy, the better decisions they are able to make to decrease unnecessary load and reduce their own bills. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), in response to rules set out by the California Public Utilities Commission, created a detailed energy hub for customers. This hub provided them with grid data sharing capability that allowed them to monitor their own usage and share that data with third-parties.
Barriers to grid data sharing
There are, however, a number of obstacles that widespread grid data sharing faces, which could delay or derail efforts to improve energy efficiency and provision.
Compliance has become a major issue across all verticals where data is used, not just in the energy sector. Regulations such as the EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA place strict rules on how data can be collected, who it can be shared with, and what it can be used for. In the case of grid data sharing, this can be especially applicable as personally identifiable information like names and addresses of customers are prominent. Supplementary information, such as energy usage or home occupancy patterns, can also provide criminals with information on which households to target.
The “grid” in grid data sharing encompasses tens or hundreds of thousands of data points, including IoT devices, electrical transformers, power plants, and home users. When taking so much data into account, the interoperability of it all becomes an issue. One of the major challenges facing successful grid data sharing is how to bring data in various formats into a cohesive and unified image of the energy grid that others can easily tap into and use.
Understandably, competitors in private industry might be reluctant to share their data with others in the same field who could use it to gain an advantage over them. Even though the overall result might be greater energy efficiency for all, trust in how data is going to be used and who gets to use it is critical for grid data sharing to succeed.
Collecting and sharing grid data adds considerably to an organization’s risk profile. This can be because of the threat of regulatory fines, loss of consumer trust, or becoming party to data operations with inferior levels of security and access controls.
How to overcome grid data obstacles
Overcoming the barriers facing grid data sharing and maximizing the many benefits it can deliver requires the use of secure data platforms, such as Intertrust Platform. Here’s how.
A secure data virtualization platform provides strict data governance and access controls. This allows administrators to define who can access which data and what they can do with it, right down to row and column level. This is essential when merging datasets with different permissions and observing rules around data sharing and usage, meaning control is kept by the original data owner.
Since all data is queried in secure execution containers, different organizations don’t have to worry about data leakage and theft by competitors. Grid data can be shared securely, and access and capabilities of different users can be pre-determined by stakeholder agreement.
With Intertrust Platform, datasets are brought together and unified for querying, no matter their location or format. This allows disparate stakeholders to work together and still understand the data being exchanged. Through CleanGrid, an Intertrust Platform-powered toolkit, the potential of grid data sharing has already been proven in major successful use cases.
More efficient infrastructure
CleanGrid has proved the value of grid data sharing with DigiKoo, a wholly owned subsidiary of E.ON SE, one of the largest utility companies in the world. By providing a secure, fast, and effective data exchange platform between various service providers and regional government authorities in Germany, CleanGrid was able to improve the provision of EV charge-points to maximize public benefit.
Support for DERs
Applications using CleanGrid in Germany, utilizing its Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Secure Execution Environment features, have been able to cut the time needed to interconnect DERs with the grid. For new DER installation projects powered by CleanGrid, the installation project planning cycles could be cut by up to 90%.
We help create efficiencies
Grid data sharing can be one of the most powerful tools available in the drive for a clean energy world. Though it does face significant obstacles, these can be overcome through the use of secure data exchange platforms. Intertrust Platform, as has been proven through CleanGrid, can create the fast and effective data sharing environments that are essential for creating efficiencies in the energy ecosphere.
About Abhishek Prabhakar
Abhishek Prabhakar is a Senior Manager ( Marketing Strategy and Product Planning ) at Intertrust Technologies Corporation, and is primarily involved in the global product marketing and planning function for The Intertrust Platform. He has extensive experience in the field of new age enterprise transformation technologies and is actively involved in market research and strategic partnerships in the field.