Illustration; Source: North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA)

UK’s pursuit of digitalization making way for integrated energy system to boost security of supply and net zero aspirations

After the Data Principles Group, a task force set up by the Offshore Energy Digital Strategy Group (DSG), laid out draft principles to strengthen collaboration ties and data sharing among North Sea players, the set of draft principles is now available for comment and consideration in a bid to enable the UK to fortify its energy security while pushing Britain’s energy transition agenda forward.

Illustration; Source: North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA)

The UK’s regulator, North Sea Transit Authority (NSTA), outlines that stakeholders will be asked to commit to principles designed to assist the offshore energy sector in the mission to reach its energy transition goals through digitalization. These principles, meant to create a digital integrated offshore energy system, entail embracing targeted, collaborative data-sharing to strengthen predictive models, such as digital twins, optimize operations, and achieve net-zero objectives. 

This comes on the heels of the findings from the recently published 2023 Offshore Energy Data & Digital Maturity Survey, stating that data sharing remains challenging as organizations are still reluctant to share it for fear of jeopardizing their competitive advantage.

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Ed Evans, Data Principles Group Chair and Senior Consultant at the Open Data Institute (ODI), commented: “By adopting these principles and actively participating in collaborative data initiatives, organizations stand to benefit in many ways. They can gain a competitive edge, contribute to industry-wide advancements, and position themselves as socially responsible and innovative participants in the energy transition. In turn, this will enable the UK to take the lead in achieving net zero, a significant aim for the ODI and many of our partners, funders and wider network.”

According to the NSTA, sharing data can enable the development of more accurate and robust predictive models, optimizing resource allocation and leading to better decision-making, offer new insights, and foster innovation while reducing risks. In addition, it will lead to more cost-effective problem-solving and quicker resolution of issues, providing access to larger quantities of high-quality data for the use of technologies such as AI and opening new opportunities for knowledge exchange.

What are these six draft principles bringing to the table?

The first of the six principles enables companies to take the lead in the energy transition arena by committing to actively sharing data. The aim of a shared data ecosystem and collaboration on initiatives that contribute to more efficient operation, reduced carbon, and sustainable practices is to speed up the move toward net-zero targets. 

The second principle entails increasing the value of internal and external data. Working with peers to apply artificial intelligence (AI), data science, and robotics on sector-wide datasets is expected to step up innovation, develop new insights, unlock new opportunities, and reduce the costs and risks of operations.

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While the third principle involves collaboration to develop targeted solutions on a case-by-case basis to avoid duplication of effort and find practical solutions to sector challenges, the fourth one is related to advancing the accuracy of digital models or digital twins by sharing data to improve the visibility of the infrastructure, logistical options, the subsurface, and other aspects of the natural environment. 

The fifth principle is meant to facilitate accessible, secure data repositories for all stakeholders by reusing or creating secure, standardized, and accessible data sets to allow for innovation and knowledge exchange, along with the application of AI technologies. 

Last but not least, the objective of the sixth principle is to enhance operational efficiency and reduce risks through data collaboration and integrating shared data into decision-making processes to optimize workflows and boost efficiency.

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Nic Granger, Offshore Energy Digital Strategy Group Chair and Director of Corporate at North Sea Transition Authority, remarked:  “It’s great to see these data principles being drafted as a key recommendation from the Digitalising Offshore Energy Systems report. Sharing data is critical to an integrated energy system that will help to ensure UK energy security and support the energy transition.”

Established in 2022, the DSG brings together various offshore industry stakeholders from the UK to promote data sharing and step up digitalization, which is perceived to be crucial to energy security and net zero. The participating organizations include Crown Estate Scotland, the Marine Management Organisation, the Marine Scotland Directorate of the Scottish Government, NSTA, Ofgem, and The Crown Estate, among others.

Regarding other initiatives related to achieving net-zero targets, the NSTA launched a new emissions reduction plan last month and published two guidelines to help the industry prepare for the first carbon storage injection. The UK regulator also emphasized electrification and exploring new technologies to tackle the issue.

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