Looking beyond digital through the lens of electricity

News Article
News Min

Eurelectric kick-starts its innovation platform “Beyond Digital: The Intelligent and Data Driven Utility” and explores the rise of exponential technologies. The platform will develop a common vision for the power sector, following four deep-dive rounds of discussions taking place in London, Dublin, Milan and Brussels between April and December.

Eurelectric launches an expert group “Beyond Digital: The Intelligent and Data Driven Utility” to look into the post digital age. How do AI and other exponential technologies transform business models and society? How should utilities seize opportunities and tackle new risks?

Throughout 2020, four rounds of discussions led by Eurelectric and IBM, will bring together utility and technology experts to explore the game changing role of big data, artificial intelligence and other exponential technologies. The discussions will assess their potential for the electricity industry and define the necessary actions to capitalise their benefits.

A first exploratory discussion demonstrated the multidisciplinary nature of this topic, as well as the multiple applications that AI can have in the electricity industry. Currently, this technology is often used in trading, as a way to recognise data patterns, predict movement of prices and assess demand and supply structures. But an abundance of options could be explored.

AI applications are slowly taking shape on the generation, distribution and customer interaction side. As the power sector becomes increasingly decarbonised and decentralised, there is an urgent need to find solutions for an efficient system response and balancing.  

Algorithms constantly gain in sophistication, leading the experts to believe that AI applications will shift from pure observation of data to deeper understanding of its fundamentals. Moreover, once data collections become more structured, exponential technologies are expected to enable energy efficiency improvements and the creation of business models fit for the post digital era.

However, experts have been touting concerns about aspects that are yet to be tackled: ethics, data privacy and the use of highly energy intensive machines in the context of decarbonisation. While some of these issues are going to be addressed by the EU executive body, it is essential to see beyond the risks and keep harnessing the potential of innovation.

The EU Commission unveiled on 19 February a package with proposals on European data strategy, artificial intellience and platform regulation over the next five years, acknowledged the enabling role of digital in the energy transition. Stakeholders are expected to provide their feedback by responding to the public consultations before 19 May.

On this occasion, Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of the digital age, said:

“We want every citizen, every employee, every business to stand a fair chance to reap the benefits of digitalisation. Whether that means driving more safely or polluting less thanks to connected cars.”