As digitalisation and new technologies continue to play a more prominent role in bridging the divide towards a cleaner energy future, data regulation is fast becoming an emerging priority. Our correspondent Lindy Tan explains.
During the third session of the Singapore Energy Summit, Matthew Friedman, Chief Information Officer & Chief Digital Officer, Sembcorp Industries Ltd., shared, “Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Things (IoT), machine learning, cloud and blockchain can help improve efficiency in the energy sector, resulting in greater sustainability and creating new opportunities for regulators, businesses and consumers.” And stakeholders from across the energy industry are heeding the call for the need to invest in these developments in order to reap their benefits.
That said, digitalisation also brings along new challenges, especially in areas relating to cybersecurity and consumer privacy. As these areas are likely to affect confidence and trust, great care must be taken to manage these areas carefully to ensure consumer safety and protection.
Dr Tatsuo Hatta, Chairman, Electricity and Gas Market Surveillance Commission (EGC), METI Japan, added that digitalisation will benefit both users and suppliers of electricity. He cited an example from Japan where 64 per cent of households today have smart meters installed, and talked about how they leverage smart metering technologies and dynamic pricing for better informed demand response.
At the same time, this pivot to digitalisation and the resulting availability of data can shape demand profiles and allow service providers to give their customers a more personalised experience. Generators are also able to offer better rates during the night via dynamic pricing due to demand shifts.
Anthony Gatt, Malta’s Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Water Management, pointed out that investment in digitalisation is a win-win case for consumers, who can now track and reduce consumption. Generators can also use digitalization to stabilise energy demand to counteract intermittency. Mr. Gatt noted that if demand “can be stabilised, the country can save and have many indirect benefits.”
Digitalisation can also be adopted for optimisation. Using data, turbines in wind farms which are not aligned with the wind can be identified and rectified upstream with suppliers. This will, in turn, optimise the efficiency of future wind turbines. In data centres, high speed sensors can be deployed to analyse data that will evaluate the cooling needs of the data centres, leading to efficiency gains in energy consumption.
Shinichi Imai, Managing Director, TEPCO Power Grid, added that in Japan where there are natural disasters, “information from smart meters can be integrated into the distribution network to locate customers and ensure that they have restored power after natural disasters.” While smart meters will promote energy efficiency and save costs for consumers in the long run, the take-up rate is relatively slow due to the need to create systems for data protection and provide consumers with useful information to maximise energy efficiency.
Against this backdrop of advantages, it is also important to note that regulation will be a growing concern as digitalisation grows. While consumer privacy is important, there is a need to strike a balance between privacy and access to data.
Didier Holleaux, Executive Vice President, ENGIE, countered that it is not just about privacy. It is about the intention for using of the data. He shared on how his group’s work with KK Women’s & Children Hospital to implement low energy sensors in their facilities used data to regulate humidity and temperature, allowing the hospital to detect any abnormalities and react immediately.
That said, it remains likely that digitalisation will play an integral role in the future energy needs on a global scale, from trading to retail, and from distribution and customer service through to optimisation.
Source: SIEW 2019
About Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2019
The Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) is an annual platform for energy professionals, policymakers and commentators to share best practices and solutions within the global energy space.
First held in 2008, SIEW is organised by the Singapore Energy Market Authority (EMA), a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Our main goals are to ensure a reliable and secure energy supply, promote effective competition in the energy market and develop a dynamic energy sector in Singapore.
The theme for the 12th annual SIEW is, “Accelerating Energy Transformation” which calls on global energy stakeholders to collaborate and accelerate efforts towards a more sustainable energy future. This is important given rapidly expanding energy demand, especially in Asia, and the increased electrification of transportation, industries and buildings. At the same time, there continue to be concerns over meeting climate change commitments, even as renewable energy investments hit record highs.
Anchor events at SIEW include the SIEW Opening Keynote (SOK) and Singapore Energy Summit (SES) which feature high-level keynotes and panel discussions around this year’s theme. Other key events include the Singapore-IEA Forum, SIEW Energy Insights, SIEW Thinktank Roundtables and In Dialogue with Youth. SIEW partner events, the Asia Clean Energy Summit, Asian Downstream Summit, and Gas Asia Summit provide an opportunity to focus in on industry-specific topics.