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22 June 2017

The digital revolution: a game-changer for the power sector


Whilst the French National Regulatory Authority (CRE) is about to publish the analysis undertaken by its Data Committee, UFE outlines the main issues of this announced and ongoing revolution for the power sector.
With the development and roll-out of sensors, smart meters and connected devices, the amount of data related to energy will be tremendous, and particularly in the electricity sector.

Such data represent a raw material whose value could be enhanced in various ways, many of which probably remain to be discovered. From both users’ and consumers’ perspectives –individuals, local authorities or firms – the rising interest is due to the overwhelming range of possibilities offered rather than by data in itself. Therefore, in the energy sector as in other sectors, thirst for data will increase with the development of services and applications.
Thanks to the roll-out of smart meters and the boom of connected devices, services are being developed for active steering of consumption, thus addressing actual needs for the benefit of both consumers and the power system. New consultancy services for consumers are also likely to spring up, notable in terms of advice in energy efficiency renovations or purchasing devices. Energy data could also represent a useful communication tool so as to improve all users’ understanding of the power system … many opportunities are offered!

Data must be available … for all energy sources!

Data availability is a sine qua non condition for further developing services and applications. In this regard, energy sources connected to the grid such as gas and electricity are at the forefront, notably because of their regulatory regime. Indeed, the legislative and regulatory framework is being set to organise how data are made available – through open data or only for consumers or users depending on the circumstances – and to ensure personal data protection .
To take full advantage of energy data potential, data access must be open for other energy sources, particularly fossil fuels. One should start reflecting on the involvement of energy uses (building, transport …) as well.

Trust as a key prerequisite

Pedagogy will be essential in this transition for users to understand all data related to their energy consumption and better adapt to the ongoing evolutions. In this regard, the role and the commitment of public authorities, alongside operators, will be decisive.
Production and use of data must be based on two fundamental pillars: protection of personal data on the one hand, and cybersecurity on the other hand. Cybersecurity should secure the integrity of both data and the whole electricity system, especially as the latter will rely even more on them.
Whilst there is a rising interest for energy data, French electricity actors are well-positioned stakeholders thanks to the confidence and proximity relationship that they build with customers and users, and their proven – and internationally acknowledged – capacity to safely manage the power system. With its strong competitive edge, the French electricity sector is ready to seize all the opportunities in the digital revolution for the benefit of consumers and the collectivity!

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The Union of the French Electricity Industry is the trade association of the French electricity sector. We bring together companies from the whole value chain of the electricity industry.

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