The European Strategy for Data defines nine key sectors for data spaces to be established in – one of them being the energy sector. In a recent session named “How Data Spaces can be Built: Evolving Data Spaces in the European Energy Sector“, experts provided valuable insights as to why the European energy sector needs a data ecosystem facilitating secure and trustworthy cross-organizational data sharing and exchange. They presented approaches already being tested and projects already underway and reported about challenges to face and obstacles to overcome.
Energy systems and infrastructures across Europe are currently subject to fundamental transformation, due to the need to refrain from energy production based on fossil fuels and move on to alternative concepts and methods based on renewables. This process (or megatrend, we should say), for which the term “energy transition” has been coined, is characterized by a fundamental shift away from centralized, top-down energy production and supply toward widely distributed, multilateral settings involving an ever-increasing number of energy producers and suppliers. At the same time, European countries need to cope with ever-increasing power consumption, as more and more (industrial and private) systems and applications are electrified. In terms of flexibility and availability, this poses entirely new requirements both on energy production and energy storage.
Promoting energy transition with the help of data spaces
In view of these entirely new requirements regarding flexibility and availability, the transformation of the energy sector requires entirely new market and communication structures living up to these requirements. In this effort, data spaces offer a promising solution, as they allow setting up many-to-many instead of one-to-many communication scenarios. The overall goal is to facilitate data sharing and exchange that is scalable, secure, and grants data sovereignty to data owners and providers. Digital business models established with the help of data spaces allow each party involved in a data sharing and exchange transaction to leverage the full value of their data. The concept is already working for smart grids, in which smart meters capture and communicate data on the energy consumed by individual households.
Obstacles impeding cross-organizational data exchange
When it comes to establishing scenarios for cross-organizational data sharing and exchange, the biggest problem is lack of trust. This can be seen when we look at the example of offshore wind farms, where data produced by these wind farms is mainly made available to the respective turbine manufacturers. Unfortunately, these manufacturers are very reluctant when it comes to sharing their data, for they are in fear of suffering from competitive disadvantages as a result of revealing sensitive information. Furthermore, there is no central marketplace for data coming from wind energy plants, which is why the data is not interoperable. To overcome these problems (i.e. to ensure data sovereignty and data interoperability), it would be necessary that more global players from the wind energy sector take part in cross-organizational data sharing and exchange. A pilot project named EnDaSpace, which was conducted by several Fraunhofer-Institutes has demonstrated that cross-organizational data sharing and exchange in the wind energy sector can actually work and yield multiple benefits. The project used the data produced by an 8-megawatts wind power plant, including weather forecast data and information on current and future electricity prices, in order to cost-efficiently produce green hydrogen in a remotely located electrolyzer.
Cross-national European collaboration: the Platoon project
The Platoon project is an example of successful cross-organizational data sharing and exchange between partners spread across Europe (i.e. twenty partners from nine countries). The overall project comprises a number of pilot projects, each one with a different focus. The main outcome of the Platoon project: a digital end-to-end data ecosystem for optimizing the value chain in the energy sector, in which all parties involved can use the data for different purposes without neglecting the basic principles of data sovereignty and data interoperability.
IDSA Summit 2021
We brought together all the data spaces experts at our IDSA Summit on June 22 & 23. Specialists from technology, legal, business, and industry showed what sovereign data spaces look like. And how they can be built right now!
To watch all the videos and get all the slides from the IDSA Summit 2021, visit https://internationaldataspaces.org/idsa-summit-2021/.