Skip to content


Energy and Utilities

Driving innovation in energy transition through advanced digital technologies.

The road ahead for Energy and Utilities providers

Energy system transformation is a key part of the UK’s national response to the climate emergency. The UK Government has committed to decarbonising the power system by 2035 as a significant contribution to achieving the national net zero target by 2050 (2045 in Scotland). 

The energy sector generates 20% of the UK’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.  A fundamental requirement for a net zero power system, and to achieve the targets committed by the government, is to embrace innovation and advanced digital technologies in the search for new solutions.

To achieve these net zero targets, the energy sector is undergoing unparalleled change shifting from fossil fuels to renewable generation. The UK is already a world-leader in renewable energy, particularly offshore wind, but wholesale change of the UK’s entire energy network will involve a fundamental shift in the way that energy is generated, transmitted, and distributed. Digitalisation is key to enabling this transition

Priorities for the Energy Transition

The Energy Transition presents a number of opportunities for innovation and digital technologies. These include:

  • Digital & data transformation
  • Integrating renewable energy sources
  • Virtualising the energy system, i.e. digital twins 

Digital & data Transformation

Digital & data Transformation continues to underpin the success of the energy transition and is one of the sector’s top innovation focuses.

Key challenges include:

  1. Finding an approach to planning and forecasting that accounts for the whole energy system. Understanding how exactly data can be transferred across the energy supply chain in an open and secure way.
  2. Protecting against the risk of cyber-attacks as electricity networks become more reliant on data and ageing technologies. 
  3. Embedding flexibility to drive customer value. Flexibility relies on real time data, so businesses seek to enable the rapid deployment of high fidelity cyber-physical products and services.
  4. Deciding the right approach to how this data is communicated, stored, and used to drive customer value.

Integrating Renewable Energy Sources

The UK, like many other countries, already has a significant share of renewable energy generation from sources like wind and solar. However, transitioning towards a low carbon system where the majority of generation sources are cleaner and more sustainable presents some key challenges:

  1. Visibility: Ensuring greater visibility of distributed flexibility on the network will help to reduce the operational risk of managing a more decentralised energy grid. 
  2. Control: Optimising grid operation to accommodate control over the more variable renewable supply. 
  3. Forecasting: Expanding the flexibility market for smaller assets and helping with the introduction of new models, such as third party aggregators, to make the network more cost effective to run, therefore delivering value for customers.

Virtualising the Energy System – Digital Twin

A digital twin, a digital representation of a real-world entity or system,  will become a vital digital tool for enabling the energy transition. The challenges of adopting these virtual environments include:

  1. Data Availability and Quality: Ensuring the availability and quality of data is crucial for accurate representation and simulation within the digital twin.
  2. Scalability and Complexity: Creating digital twins that encompass the entire energy system or even specific parts is a significant technical hurdle.
  3. Integration and Interoperability: Achieving seamless data exchange and synchronisation among various digital twins is crucial for gaining a holistic view of the energy system and optimising its performance.
  4. Security and Privacy: Adequate measures must be in place to protect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the digital twin infrastructure and data.
  5. Model Accuracy and Validation: Calibrating and updating the models based on real-time observations and feedback is an ongoing challenge to improve their accuracy.
  6. Regulatory and Policy Frameworks: Adapting policies and regulations to accommodate the dynamic nature of digital twins and leveraging their potential effectively. 
  7. Organisational and Cultural Shifts: Overcoming resistance to change and fostering a culture of data-driven decision-making

How we can help

Digital Catapult’s experts and technologists support energy and utilities providers with the following capabilities:   

  • Digital & Data Roadmap – informing a wider digital transformation strategy. 
  • Digital Architecture Audit – conducting a gap analysis of existing digital infrastructure and how this will inform digital transformation.
  • Data Discovery – ensuring crucial data is properly stored at the right frequency.
  • POC/Prototype Development – demonstrating the technical feasibility, functionality and business value of digital solutions. 
  • Business Model Innovation – specialist consultancy to understand the business value of digital solutions and to implement new ways of leveraging data.

Work with us

To find out more about the services we offer, complete the form below and our team will get in touch to better understand how we can work together.

Your Message
By ticking this box I agree to sign up to Digital Catapult news and marketing emails.
I agree to Digital Catapult collecting and processing my personal data in accordance with Digital Catapult’s privacy policy.

Who we work with

Clients testimonials

We asked Digital Catapult to join our SIF project at the Alpha stage to unlock the digital opportunities of the new robotic technologies that our innovation partner Synovate has developed for the gas industry. Digital Catapult used their Data and IoT experts to carry out a full review of the data architectures and propose a new approach that would enable the rapid sharing and analysis of data between the gas industry and Synovate. Digital Catapult also utilised their AI technologists to identify eight use cases for the introduction of AI into the detection of leaks using the thermal imagery sensor mounted to the robot. Keith Owen
Head of Innovation, Northern Gas Networks

Related news