Energy transition and digitalization, an opportunity for network operators

Environmental issues are profoundly reshaping the energy sector.

The energy transition also offers opportunities for the digitalization of electricity networks, transforming both the processes of network managers and their customer experience. With this in mind, the Energisme solution supports the decision-making processes of all stakeholders by strengthening their control over energy data.

What is the energy transition?

The energy transition refers to the transition from an energy system based on fossil fuels to a new, more environmentally friendly energy mix. The desire to reduce CO2 emissions in order to limit global warming is at the heart of this approach.

The energy transition is part of a broader framework of ecological transition. It is the result of an awareness of environmental issues and a political will. In France, it is manifested through the law n° 2015-992 on the energy transition for green growth, promulgated on August 17, 2015.

In practice, the energy transition is based on two types of actions:

  • The replacement of carbon-based energies by renewable energies (RE)
  • Measures to reduce energy consumption by improving energy efficiency (waste reduction, energy renovation, demand-response, energy management, etc.)
The Energisme platform

In all cases, these changes require an in-depth understanding of energy consumption through smart metering, data collection and analysis.

The Energisme platform also allows to model the forecasted impact of the measures to secure the decision making.

What are the challenges of the energy transition of electrical networks?

The energy transition involves a profound change in the way energy is produced, distributed and consumed. 

Transmission and distribution system operators (TSOs) are obviously the first to be affected by this transformation of the energy sector. Here are the main challenges they are now facing:

Integration of renewable energies

To meet the political will for ecological transition, network operators must accelerate the deployment of renewable energies in the electricity sector. Indeed, the French government has set a target of 40% of electricity consumption to be generated by renewable energies by 2030.

However, compared to carbon-based or nuclear energy sources, renewable energies pose new challenges:

  • Electricity production is less regular and therefore more difficult to control
  • Production is decentralized over a large number of production sites

For TSOs and DSOs, this means more complex processes and additional costs to adapt the electricity networks to these new requirements.

The emergence of alternative modes of production and consumption

The focus on renewable energies has opened the door to new habits in energy consumption. 

An increasing number of individuals and professionals are now equipping themselves, for example with photovoltaic panels, and producing electricity to meet their own needs. 

Consumers are organizing themselves, within a microgrid or via dedicated platforms such as Powerpeers in the Netherlands, to share locally produced renewable energy.

Finally, households and businesses are integrating the notion of energy efficiency into their practices. Managing consumption by collecting and analyzing data has become a key requirement of the energy market.

Competition from disruptive players

For electricity network operators, the energy transition is changing the game, especially as disruptive players are stepping into the breach. 

These new players are benefiting from a regulatory framework that is favorable to renewable energies and from the opening of the energy market that has already begun. They are creating new business models around 3 main axis:

  • Renewable energies and electricity traceability
  • Controlling energy consumption and costs
  • Development of digital services

To respond to these challenges, which affect their competitiveness, the energy industry has to evolve its offer by taking advantage of new digital tools.

Energy transition and smart grids

The energy transition

The energy transition

is accelerating the digitalization of electrical networks.

To remain competitive, energy suppliers must provide their customers with new digital services that address energy performance and environmental issues.

The platform developed by Energisme works in this direction. Indeed, it automates and facilitates the massive collection of energy data on a building, equipment or a whole industrial or real estate park. The collected data are centralized in the solution in SaaS mode. They can be cross-referenced with each other or with other external data sources to produce useful information for better management of their facilities.

In practice, network managers can make this information available to their customers to initiate a more virtuous and collaborative management of energy production and consumption.

This digital transformation of networks is reflected in the development of smart grids.

What is a smart grid?

What is a smart grid?

Definition

A “smart grid” is an electrical network that relies on data to adjust the flow of electricity between suppliers and consumers. 

In concrete terms, the smart grid integrates digital technologies (smart meters, IOT sensors, etc.) to detect changes in usage and possible problems in the network. 

Then, data analysis is used to predict the state of the network and to take proactive actions or react in real time to changes.

The benefits of the smart grid

The benefits of the smart grid

The smart grid meets the energy challenges of the future on several levels.

It offers multiple advantages:

  • Real-time control of energy flows: grid operators can automatically direct power flows according to demand.
  • Better alignment between transmission and distribution networks: thanks to instantaneous data flows, TSOs and DSOs gain in complementarity and efficiency to deliver energy to consumers
  • Integration of renewable energies: the smart grid makes it possible to better forecast production and consumption levels over a given period. It thus offers a response to the problems of intermittency of certain renewable energies.
  • Increasing consumer involvement: end customers are better able to monitor and regulate their consumption.
What digital levers are there for smart grids?

What digital levers are there for smart grids?

The use of new digital levers

The efficiency of the smart grid relies on the use of new digital levers to collect, process, cross-reference and analyze data on electricity production and consumption.

For example, the widespread use of Linky electricity meters by Enedis aims to collect richer consumption data from consumers. In terms of data collection, the development of IoT sensors in the industrial sector and in local authorities is also feeding the smart grid.

Artificial intelligence then facilitates the use of data for energy performance purposes. It allows for a better adjustment of electrical flows and also favors the implementation of a predictive maintenance approach on equipment.

Finally, data management is a prerequisite for the development of new digital services. For example, it makes it possible to launch energy consumption management applications for individuals or professionals.

The digital platform developed by Energisme offers network managers full control over the data path, from data collection to service production. It meets the challenges of data governance and is therefore a lever to meet the requirements of the energy transition and offer their customers innovative energy performance management services.