Big Data and Distributed Energy for Decarbonizing UK’s Power Sector


The energy sector world over is in a constant flux of change—developments in the last eight years may be equivalent to transformations in the past 25 years or so. The advent of disruptive technologies such as big data and advanced analytics underpinned by rapidly evolving business models have been behind the paradigmatic changes. With an objective to achieve a low-carbon economy, governments in several nations are aiming for decarbonizing the power sector.

Role of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Share in Grid Modernization Set to Rise in U.K.

In particular, governments in numerous developed nations such as the U.K. seek to achieve this largely by reducing the cost of technology and by adopting low-carbon energy sources, notably wind and solar power. A key challenge faced by them is adapting to flexible generation or demand. The evolution of distributed energy resources (DERs) stems from the need to address this challenge. For instance, in the U.K., National Grid plc is exploring the potential of DERs such as advanced storage and integrated renewable technologies to decarbonize the entire power sector. In recent years, the role of DERs in grid modernization has got bigger. These now not only manage demand-response dynamics and load-shedding but their role extends to maintaining reliability of power grids as well as responding to frequency variations.

Adopting Distributed Energy Sources in Ancillary Services Markets Creates Commercial Value

Several companies in the U.K. have been adopting DERs in the ancillary services markets to tap demand-response opportunities in the power sector by offering services and technologies. The services they offer include short-term operating reserve and dynamic and fast frequency response, thereby creating immense value in centralized power systems. In 2015, the government in the U.K. announced that an investment amounting to £34 billion over the period 2014–2020 is required for meeting current and emerging challenges in the power sector. Upgrading the ageing infrastructure by including new and low-carbon electricity generating sources and adopting more flexible generation forms the prime objectives of this governmental spend.

Big Data and Advanced Analytics Unlock Extra Capacity

An efficient use of existing infrastructure may be necessary to optimize this spending. For instance, using big data and advanced analytics in combination with DERs may be necessary to manage demand-response variation. One such companies using these technologies is Origami Energy Ltd., a technology company based in the U.K., who is focused on connecting distributed energy assets to distributed energy assets of their customers using its technology platforms, such as Spark, Kafka, and Cassandra. Such initiatives help it scale out to tens of thousands of DERs

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