Article - Greenbyte

July 7, 2020 — Industry Trends

How can we break data deadlocks by 2025?

We must remove data barriers to achieve a green electricity system.

Jonas Corné
CEO, Greenbyte

In future I believe we will have electricity in abundance.

The falling costs of wind, solar and storage will drive this change. Energy companies will not make money by just selling electrons, but by selling electrons at the right time and by selling services that make the grid more reliable.

In the medium term, it is likely that power prices will be more volatile. That’s why we are partnering with our friends at Pexapark to help you to manage this volatility. You can read a Q&A with Pexapark’s head of data Manuel Damsohn on that here.

But the overall trend will be that power prices move towards zero because the supply side will be enormous. After all, we do have a giant fusion reactor in the sky!

If owners of renewable power projects are to thrive in such a market, they must pay significant attention to data and software infrastructure. This will allow them to make decisions instantaneously at the edges of the grid.

I was delighted to discuss this with WindEurope on 16th June, at a webinar about the impacts of digitalisation on wind until 2025 and beyond. In this post I’ll summarise my main points and set out a route for data to help achieve this future.

Data deadlocks

The future I outlined above won’t happen by 2025. That is a longer-term projection that requires a fundamental overhaul of many parts of the electricity system. But there is work we can do on data by 2025 to set the groundwork for a revolution.

First, we need to be open. We need a world in which owners of renewables are in control of their data so that it can be easily shared throughout the value chain. This means properly structured and well-documented APIs.

Second, we need to be smart. This means owners can use data for higher orders of value creation such as digital twins, forecasting electricity production into the future by combining weather, historic asset performance and down-time schedules.

Third, we need to be autonomous. This means owners have projects that can store electricity when power prices are negative, provide frequency regulation and perform maintenance activities at favourable times.

To become autonomous, we’ll need to link up smart algorithms that run on large amounts of well-structured data to the control systems of wind, PV and storage plants. With this link power plants can make decisions in real time that are aligned with the interests of the owner.

Until 2025, only five years away, I believe the industry would benefit greatly from embarking on a path in which owners get control of their data so they can exchange it with others in the value chain.

Here are few tangible recommendations for owners that want to start today:

  • Make sure data from assets, production forecasts, wind/solar resource data, scheduled maintenance, electricity prices, grid meters and substations is collected into one system.
  • Make sure the data above can easily be disseminated to other parties in the value chain and that you as owner control who has access to what.

Start to measure revenue-based availability in preparation for more volatile electricity prices, even if you have no such commercial contracts in place that require it, as it will create the right focus in your organization.

At Greenbyte, we are working hard to deliver the systems you’ll need. Check out our new ebook on our research into the potential of deep autoencoders here.

In addition, for US owners, my colleague Guillaume Mazade has shared his thoughts on how wind players can integrate solar in their portfolios. Read that one here.

A world with more distributed electricity production will make it absolutely necessary for owners to have a tighter grip of their data.

It could even become a requirement to make some data public in order to participate in the market. This would again require to be in control of the data.

It seems like destiny that two of the world’s smallest man-made commodities – bits and electrons – need to become even more closely aligned to achieve our green future. There isn’t a moment to lose.

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