Northern Powergrid seeks views on its roadmap to digitalisation

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NORTHERN Powergrid is seeking feedback on its digitalisation strategy which describes how it proposes to deliver progressive modernisation.

The vision, which sets out emerging thinking and will help inform and shape future business plans for the next regulatory period starting 2023, is laid out in a digitalisation roadmap.

As the response to climate change builds momentum over the next decade, millions of homes and businesses will embrace electric vehicles, install heat pumps and use battery storage in combination with renewable sources of generation.

These changes will place new demands on energy networks while simultaneously creating new opportunities to innovate and transform how energy systems are managed.

These opportunities will inevitably draw on technology to enable and underpin them.

Northern Powergrid’s roadmap for digitalisation sets out its early strategic thinking on how it might achieve this.

Patrick Erwin, Northern Powergrid’s Policy and Markets Director, commented on the strategy: “The digital revolution is transforming every aspect of society and energy networks are no different.

“Responding to the immense challenge of climate change requires a radical transformation to a clean, safe and sustainable future.

“New digital technologies such as automation, data analytics and artificial intelligence, will not only accelerate that transition, it will enable customers to become active participants within it.

“We want our stakeholders to have the opportunity learn and help inform our thinking in the months and years ahead.”

The Distribution Network Operator is already implementing industry-leading digital innovation projects on its network and in its business practices as part of its transition to a Distributed System Operator, such as its domestic demand side response project that saw households across the region shift their energy demand in exchange for prizes using a specially designed mobile app game.

The roadmap will further embed digital transformation across everything the company does – helping deliver the most efficient and optimised network possible.

Northern Powergrid’s thinking at this stage has highlighted two distinct areas of consideration; delivering a digital energy network and building a digital business.

Within the digital roadmap, Northern Powergrid has identified four desired outcomes to measure the effectiveness of its efforts to deliver a digital network.

These results will be determined by a number of activities.

  1. Promoting data transparency – collecting and sharing energy system data in a consistent and open manner to promote grid efficiencies and compliance.
  2. Enabling data analytics and insights – improving system resilience and reliability by promoting greater transparency through sharing data across the wider energy network.
  3. Improving network operations – using emerging technology, data and digital capabilities.
  4. Digitalising the energy system – using digital devices, advanced communications and interconnected systems to drive real-time decision making.

Similarly, four cornerstone activities have been identified to build a truly digital business.

  1. Improving technology capabilities – driving down IT costs and risk from unsupported information technology whilst being able to realise future digital opportunities.
  2. Leveraging intelligent automation – reducing manual tasks, speeding up processes and re-focusing effort on value added activities that boost productivity and efficiency.
  3. Transforming customer experiences – better understanding the customer journey from all perspectives and touchpoints and adapting services to specific customer segments.
  4. Enabling a digital workplace – speeding up working processes, enabling employees to work together more effectively by sharing knowledge and gaining greater collective insights.

Tom Fielden, Northern Powergrid executive director responsible for IT, added: “We’ve set out our thinking and would like our stakeholders across the region to be part of shaping this journey so we can drive real and positive impact for our customers.

“By engaging with our stakeholders and the communities we serve at this early stage in our digitalisation roadmap, we can help build our strategy into our future business plan for the next regulatory period.”

As this is the first in an iterative process to define Northern Powergrid’s digitalisation strategy it expects to be engaging with stakeholders over the course of several months and would welcome views and opinions of this version as published.

Anyone interested in discussing or sharing their feedback on Northern Powergrid’s digitalisation roadmap should email [email protected].

Engagement on this first Digitalisation Roadmap is part of Northern Powergrid’s programme of comprehensive engagement, currently focusing on planning for the next price control period, ED2, which will run from April 2023 to March 2028.

Northern Powergrid is actively seeking views from a range of customers and other key stakeholders across the region to help shape its future around key areas including future energy systems, network improvements and security, its role as an economic enabler supporting Net Zero targets and delivering for customers through ‘high quality, fairly priced, inclusive services.’