Digitalising Europe’s energy sector – ‘enabling trustful and digitally enabled interactions’
European energy sector organisations have delivered recommendations for the EC’s upcoming action plan on the digitalisation of the energy sector.
The member-based organisations, Eurelectric, E.DSO for Smart Grids, European Heat Pump Association, Wind Europe and Solar Power Europe, in a joint declaration address the issues of data access, privacy and data protection, cybersecurity and technological sovereignty.
Pointing to the need to strengthen the link between the “mutually reinforcing” green and digital transitions, they state that the action plan “should be the new sectorial EU digital initiative and technological framework enabling trustful and digitally-enabled interactions.”
These transitions are embodied respectively in the July 2021 ‘Fit for 55’ package and the March 2021 ‘Digital Decade’ principles.
The European Commission set out its proposals for an energy sector digitalisation strategy in a roadmap in July 2021, with indicative planning for the nearly closed Q2 of this year.
The roadmap stated that the plan will outline how different EU policy and funding instruments will work together to exploit the benefits of digital solutions in the energy sector while minimising their risks and environmental footprint.
Five focus areas were indicated – a European data sharing infrastructure, empowering citizens, enhancing digital technology uptake, enhancing cybersecurity and supporting the development and uptake of climate-neutral solutions for the ICT sector.
Starting with data access, control and sharing leveraged on interoperability, the declaration states that the upcoming legislation to define an interoperable framework for easier data access and exchange shall serve as a reference for data exchange in the energy sector, to avoid having multiple platforms and rules.
There should be an open and transparent process involving all the main stakeholders to jointly establish for example which data are ‘highly sensitive’ with exemption from sharing, which are ‘critical and sensitive’ that should be anonymised and aggregated, which can be exchanged without specific protection measures and which are public.
Risk analyses and cost-benefit evaluations will enhance participation in data sharing, while the costs such as changing data formats, anonymising and assuring the transfer of data should be recognised and allowed to be part of the general remuneration scheme.
On privacy and data protection, the declaration states that policy measures are needed to ensure that new markets, products and services based on energy data are open and competitive, while privacy rules must allow for greater innovation.
On cybersecurity, there needs to be consistency and harmonisation across the various plans and legislation including creation of common terminologies for cyber incident reporting. Regarding certification schemes, a maturity-based approach is recommended with a set of minimum requirements that shall be defined on the European level.
Finally, on technological sovereignty, an enabling regulatory framework is needed to increase the uptake and trust on emerging digital technologies such as the Internet of Things, cloud services and artificial intelligence.
Common codes of conduct for cloud computing service providers and portability rights on data and services must be considered and the EU should promote the development of multi-country projects and investments such as Industrial Clouds projects of common interest.