Kirsten Glennung
Kirsten Glennung
E.DSO – European Distribution System Operators
Sophia Giovanett
Sophia Giovanett
E.DSO – European Distribution System Operators

Digitalization as key enabler of the energy transition

Data and digital solutions are key enablers of the energy transition since they can facilitate the development of low carbon energy production and consumption, support the uptake of flexibility services, and ultimately help citizens become major players of the energy system.

The European Commission is currently preparing an action plan on the digitalization of the energy sector with the goal to create a modern, electrified, flexible integrated system to make the use of the infrastructure more efficient. Pursuing digitalization and the use of data allows the monitoring and controlling of energy processes by enabling the management of the decentralised energy system.

This will put the energy transition on a fast track towards carbon neutrality. But digitalisation also brings new challenges requiring a new ‘active’ customer approach as well as reskilling of the workforce. Given their natural position in the middle of the energy system, Distribution System Operators (DSOs) face both challenges and the opportunities of the digitalization of the sector.

Restructuring of the energy sector

The digitalisation of the distribution system enables enhanced observability and controllability of the grid infrastructure and equips the DSOs towards future decarbonised scenarios with increased variable load.

E.DSO and its members participates in various EU funded R&I projects to develop the technical solutions to exploit the opportunities of the digitalisation such as EUniversal: EUniversal aims to develop solutions to ensure effective implementation of an interoperable flexibility ecosystem across Europe.

The future integrated energy system includes the planning and operating of the energy system “as a whole”, across multiple energy carriers, infrastructures, and sectors.
Therefore, to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality all stakeholders need to cooperate and to optimise energy efficiency in the industrial, building, and transportation sector many processes have to be digitalised. Digitalisation makes the operation more efficient and smarter but also more vulnerable.

(Re-)Skilling the workforce and customers

DSOs must not only provide new infrastructure, cybersecurity or data protection for the customers but also need to reskill a great part of their workforce and identify the current and future skills gap at the same time. Additionally, regional, and national educational policies for the energy sector need to be adapted to train the current and next generation with the necessary qualifications.

E.DSO and its members are committed to facilitate an inclusive energy transition and are taking important steps: examples include reskilling of the workforce and partnering up with local authorities to teach customers, who may not be digitally literate, essential digital skills so that they can use the company’s customer apps and benefit from the online customer service.

Furthermore E.DSO is working in the EDDIE project, an Erasmus + project with the aim to develop a European Sectorial Skills alliance focused on digitalization of the energy sector. The goal of the project is to enable the matching between the current and future demand of skills and the supply of improved Vocational Education and Training systems in view of the digitalisation.

Digital innovations such as the UMEI open interoperability interface developed in EUniversal will only achieve its full potential with a digitally skilled workforce that know how to harvest its full potential.