Towards energy data interoperability – insights from the SPARK conference
Connor Enright from EP Group spoke with energy specialists at the SPARK conference. Here’s what they said about the future of building performance data ecosystems.

The SPARK conference was held in London, on the 21st and 22nd of June, uniting key players across Europe’s energy transition. Connor Enright from the EN-TRACK partner EP Group attended the conference and asked energy experts to share their views on becoming part of a larger data ecosystem within the wider European community. Here are some of the key insights they shared.

Collaboration is key

One energy management expert explained the reasons for the need to have more interoperability:

“There is a huge value, not just for the energy supply system, but with plenty of additionality in the building performance sector. Energy is an enabler of the services of day-to-day life, and energy data is hugely important in providing, understanding and improving these services. In order to provide and improve these day-to-day services, we need inter-sector interoperability, rather than one monolithic data standard.”

He described how the inter-sector interoperability falls into two tracks:

“First, mission-critical data must be standardised to allow the connection of diverse data sources. Secondly, the commercial side requires us to “surface” this data across sectors and allow varied sectoral actors to produce their own use cases, which can then be identified by a centralised body. We need to lay the groundwork to allow for further connection and interoperability now. Even where our organisations are in direct competition, we need some collaboration to produce this system.”

“We need to lay the groundwork to allow for further connection and interoperability now. Even where our organisations are in direct competition, we need some collaboration to produce this system.”

Energy specialist

Unlocking cross-border data flows

The experts we spoke to all agreed that the systems need to be aligned. One participant had worked with a foreign TSO (transmission system operator), examining the coupling of energy to mobility and heating, and learned the following:

“There are challenges around the modelling, understanding and simulation of energy flows. However, it revealed the wider need to understand the business rules governing these often-siloed industries/companies. This layer is just as important as the data exchange layer. This also has relevance for urban planning, where different utilities need to prioritise and synchronise their interventions, where building performance data can assist in the final integrated planning solution, moving beyond just net energy consumption but also the consideration of water and waste.”

Understanding the business rules is just as important as the data exchange layer.”

Energy specialist

Finally, it was discussed what the EU wide data system should entail.

“We need to be realistic, and explore who do you need to share and coordinate with. At the EU level, this may not require full real-time data exchange between factories in Cornwall and Poland, but simply infrastructure that unlocks these data flows. No single standard will be practical across the globe, but instead a community of standards will be needed at the level of the impact, such as at the EU level. Systems thinking is our final goal, for example enabling the cross-border sharing of environmental outcome data,” concluded one specialist.

It is our hope that EN-TRACK can act as a centralised body to deliver, maintain and capitalise on these emerging use-cases and services, enabling collaboration and novel business models. In order to deliver on these ambitions, the EN-TRACK team will continue to engage with innovative actors across the energy sector, revealing the industry practices governing their use of data.

Kickoff Meeting
On 4-5 November 2020, EN-TRACK had a succesful kickoff meeting. In the times of Covid-19 it was of course online.
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Introduction of EN-TRACK
Watch this interview with our project coordinator, Stoyan Danov, as he explains about the goals and methodology of EN-TRACK.