Digital solutions could revolutionise the energy sector | Review 7th Oxford Energy Day | 1st October 2018

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The Oxford Energy Day Conference

The 7th Oxford Energy Day ‘Digital Change and Energy’ held on 1 October at the Natural History Museum, University of Oxford, focussed on the interactions between energy and digital solutions.  Bringing together leading Oxford researchers and experts from the energy sector, delegates discussed the implications for consumers, networks and markets.

Consumers: There was broad agreement that digital technology enables a range of new services for the consumer and will also allow consumers to contribute to the increasing challenges of system balancing. Smart metering is necessary, but raises issues of data management and privacy. Customer appetite for engagement is currently very mixed in both businesses and households: solar owning “prosumers” already benefit, but vulnerable customers are more difficult to engage,

Networks: Transmission and distribution grids face challenges from a range of new decentralised technologies, some already being deployed. There are major uncertainties about the speed of change. Smart solutions can do a lot to reduce reliance on simply increasing network capacity, but require changes in the operation of networks and the use of new control and storage solutions.

Markets: New market structures are both likely and required. Digital solutions such as distributed ledgers can facilitate decentralised markets, but the value of different business models is both contested and dependent on regulation. Reform of both network charging and retail licensing is likely to be needed.

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