A project to enable energy network and market stakeholders to share data robustly, legally and securely, helping to drive energy innovation and the low-carbon transition.
£1.658m across three phases and a pilot
Summary: impacts and findings
As the Energy Data Taskforce recognised, access to data is vital for the energy transition. The Open Energy project has created a new service that enables data to be shared in a consistent way across the energy value chain.
The two main outputs of the project are energy data search and access control. The service makes it easy to search, discover, access and securely share energy data using a trust framework. It covers open data, commercial shared data with pre-authorised access controls, and commercial shared data where access requires control.
Lord Maude of Horsham, speaking at COP26, said: “Open Energy is a success story… it will unlock access to data held by thousands of organisations to enable an open marketplace the will pave the way to our net zero future.”
Project aims and approach
Icebreaker One, a mission-driven non-profit organisation, has its roots in open banking. Building on these principles, its Open Energy project worked on an open standard for data sharing in the energy sector. Its aim: to enable energy network and market stakeholders to share data robustly, legally and securely, driving the use and adoption of innovation across the sector and so helping to address the climate crisis.
Rather than a technology-led approach, the project focused on the operational, legal and procedural foundations needed to build a robust energy data infrastructure that addresses current and future needs. This will enable new applications and solutions to be developed.
The project progressed through all three phases of Innovate UK’s SBRI Modernising Energy Data Access (MEDA) competition: Phase 1, Discovery (six weeks); Phase 2, Alpha (three months); and Phase 3, Beta (six months). A final six-month pilot stage was also added.
In Phase 1, the team validated the importance of making energy data more widely available through an open architecture with strong governance. Research confirmed the need for a clear roadmap to move from a fragmented landscape to a robust, decentralised, federated data infrastructure.
Phase 2 developed the concept, with work including:
- A three-month stakeholder engagement programme to develop a minimum viable open energy data standard based on needs – such as what problems people are trying to solve, which data could be used more efficiently and which is too difficult to access. The team identified a core use case to inform development: a local authority needing to understand how plan a programme of low-carbon measures.
- Developing and testing a prototype open energy governance platform (OEGP),
- Developing a prototype search and discovery function to seek out open and shared data.
Phase 3 consisted of:
- developing the OEGP to unlock access to energy data, and building initial membership
- building and publishing the search function (beta version) to make energy data discoverable
- and developing a sustainable business model for Open Energy that can unlock savings and stimulate innovation. In the process, other use cases were studied: engineers working on the transition from natural gas to hydrogen, electric vehicle service providers, and households.
After Phase 3 ended in July 2021, an extension grant was awarded for a further development/pilot phase which ran from September 2021 to February 2022.
Below you can watch a webinar explaining the project, recorded at the end of Phase 3 and before the pilot.
June 2020 to February 2022
Achievements and barriers
Stakeholder engagement highlighted many issues which needed to be addressed in the delivery of widely accessible shared energy data, including commercial, regulatory/legal and technical.
The governance platform created by the project was designed to mitigate these, supporting a web of energy data, with demonstrable capabilities for data discovery, a trusted access process, and standards.
At the end of Phase 3, Open Energy had achieved its main objectives, delivering:
- a private Beta governance platform,
- a live public Beta energy data search function
- a sustainable membership model
- the foundations of an open energy standard, and
- the conditions for a thriving, innovative energy data ecosystem.
Lessons from the project included:
- Open data solutions must be considered from a perspective of maximising cohesion and interoperability, including addressing machine-integration for application developers as well as direct service users.
- Data increases in value the more it is connected; incentives must exist to mandate participation by the sector in open standards
- Collaboration is critical to this work from both a technical perspective (solutions must meet user needs) and from a cultural perspective.
The next steps are to bring the Open Energy search function and governance platform to market readiness and operational service, and create around them an active ecosystem for energy data.