Network March 2019

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Page 34 of 47

NET WORK OF THE FUTURE Editorial board member Darren Jones discusses the key trends that are emerging in the sector and the barriers that need to be overcome in order to deliver a once in a generation transformation of the energy system. NETWORK / 35 / MARCH 2019 T he World Economic Forum report published in 2017, 'The Future of Electricity, New Tech- nologies Transforming the Grid Edge' described the key themes of electrification, decentralisa- tion and digitalisation as vital to the future expansion of the energy system. In addi- tion, the UK Energy Networks Association 'Open Networks' project has suggested that the preferred option for the future energy system is one of a coordinated or managed interdependence. Here, the transmission system will be interconnected to other countries to effectively become the 'anchor' of the electricity network and provide grid stability and security. The distribution network owner or new distribution system operator will then become a facilitator for system balancing provided by a multitude of network users with their own distrib - uted energy resources (DER) and grid edge technologies, the so-called flexibility model. To facilitate this new operating model elec- tricity network owners will have to embark on a mass investment in digitalisation and the integration of multiple third party smart systems that will allow whole system net - work optimisation, the 'Internet of Energy'. Although a broad term, digitalisation fundamentally refers to the fact that most new network assets now come with embed - ded sensors that can measure and monitor a range of parameters and operating condi- tions. Also, older assets can easily be retro- fitted with a full range of low cost sensors to allow the same data to be gathered. On top of these sensors are layers of SCADA that al- low the sensor systems to be integrated with enterprise so"ware that contain optimised and unified interconnected data models that represent the physical assets and their location. Sensors and their electronic control units are now so cheap and reliable and with the cost of data storage falling and computing power rising it has created a new opportunity to not just better manage physi - cal infrastructure but to optimise assets DIGITALISATION FUTURE OF FLEXIBILITY Energy transformation

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