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NORTHERN POWERGRID'S DIGITALISATION ROADMAP

02 January 2020

NORTHERN POWERGRID'S DIGITALISATION ROADMAP

02 January 2020

At the end of last year we published our first Roadmap for Digitalisation.

This is a snapshot of how we see things today; we very much want this to stimulate conversations with our customers and stakeholders to help us test our ideas and develop our thinking. This work obviously has strong links to Distributions System operation (DSO), but has tentacles across our business. This document and it's future iterations will sit within a suite of documents to support our business plan for the next price control period (ED2) running from 2023 to 2028, which we are developing ahead of formal submission in 2021. 

Here is the forward extracted and a link to the full document. 

"The urgency of accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy is well understood. The UK has committed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and three quarters of local authorities in our region have now declared climate emergencies. Responding to the immense challenge of climate change requires a radical transformation to deliver a clean, safe and sustainable society for future generations. Dramatically decarbonising the electricity system while also electrifying everything from transport to heating is an essential part of the solution. 

The development and deployment of new technologies will be a key part of how we make the transition to zero carbon electricity. In the next decade, we will see millions of homes and businesses embrace electric vehicles, adopt heat pumps and use battery storage in combination with renewable sources of generation. 

New digital technologies, including automation, data analytics and artificial intelligence, will enable consumers to become active participants in the energy system and transform how it operates. These changes will place new stresses on energy networks while simultaneously creating new opportunities to innovate and transform how we manage our systems and how we enable the transition to net-zero. 

Energy networks have a vital role in enabling the overall energy system to evolve and support rapid decarbonisation. As a Distribution Network Operator (DNO), we have had a central role facilitating a low-carbon energy system, connecting people to renewable power across our region. Our vision is to enable a smart, flexible and clean energy system that benefits all our customers. This is why we begun to expand our capabilities, recast our role to become a platform for the optimisation of the region’s energy system. We have become a Distribution System Operator (DSO). As we set out in our DSO Plan published in October, our vision is to develop our role as our regions’ DSO for our network to be a trusted and neutral platform, able to optimise our whole energy system and underpin the transition to carbon free electricity, transport and heat for all our customers. 

Our Digitalisation Roadmap forms part of our approach to meeting the challenge of the new zero carbon landscape. It sets out our vision to become a digital energy network, utilising all available digital tools and technologies to transform the capabilities of our infrastructure and our business to support a flexible, reliable and resilient energy network for the 3.9 million homes and businesses we serve. The Roadmap is integral to the future of our business and forms part of our next long-term business plan, which we are developing for the next regulatory price control period from 2023-28. 

Continued investment in new digital technology and innovation will drive the delivery of a more efficient, optimised network that reduces costs and improves our service for customers. It will transform our customer experience, enabling more tailored services and support – areas we are already making great strides in. By embracing these new technologies and moving to a fully digital workplace, we will also increase our efficiency as a business, improve transparency over how we operate and enable more effective collaboration with our colleagues and other organisations. 

We are already implementing industry-leading digital innovation projects on our network. Our Activating Community Engagement project ran the world’s first trial of a mobile game to incentivise households to reduce their electricity consumption at times of peak demand. Our Foresight project is using ground-breaking data analysis to enable fault prediction and proactively deploy network technology to automate the restoration of power supplies to customers. Looking to the future, our Customer-Led Distribution System programme is exploring the potential for our network to operate a more flexible energy system and avoid unnecessary investment in infrastructure or new generation. 

As we continue to develop our business plan and develop our role as our regions’ distribution system operator, it is critical we do so openly and transparently in dialogue with our customers and wider stakeholders. This document outlines our guiding principles for digitalisation, sets out our strategy, the outcomes we want to deliver and our vision for the digital future of our network and business. 

Our Digitalisation Roadmap is a snapshot of where we are today. We want it to stimulate conversations with our customers and stakeholders and we are looking forward to working with all of our stakeholders and the communities we serve to refine and develop our plans. This work will sit within a suite of documents to support our business plan for the next price control period (ED2) running from 2023 to 2028, which we are developing ahead of formal submission in 2021. Thank you for your continued interest, engagement and feedback. 

By Patrick Erwin, Policy and Markets Director and Tom Fielden, Finance Director and Executive lead for Information Systems.

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