Energy Systems Catapult has released a new report indicating that digital twin technologies could be used for government and regulators to develop possible future policies.
According to the Digital Twins: Model, Shadow, Twin – The case for policy uses report, digital twin technologies offer an opportunity to present complex energy systems in an accessible way for policymakers and other parties involved.
Energy Systems Catapult is a not-for-profit group that brings together industry, academia and government to accelerate the UK energy transition and foster the development of cutting edge technologies.
Digital twin technologies in policy work could be used in various situations to support the creation of a robust energy system in the UK. The report stated that “Government should continue to explore the use of digital twin technologies for policy development, and trial their use at the earliest opportunity”. It goes on the state that a digital model or shadow capability should be developed openly that can be utilised by anyone to further democratise policymaking.
Using digital twins for policy and regulation changes could provide various boosts. This includes enabling policymakers to test hypotheses on how changes might impact different organisations, specific geographic locations, as well as the energy system itself.
It could also enable quantitative outputs of the model and allow assumptions used in the model to be made available for others to test leading to further innovation across the energy system.
Another crucial positive in using digital twins is that it allows parties to learn the specific relationships between different component parts of the energy system and how they are impacted by changes. It can also create common understandings of the energy system, it’s relationships and impacts across its components.
This simplifies the energy system for regulators to make it more accessible for members of the government and policymakers.
Other benefits include being able to track specific targets made by government on themes such as overall emissions or levels of investment in particular locations on the system as well supporting measuring changes to the system based on an intervention.
Digital twins integrate a two-way data flow between models and physical objects or systems. Where making a change to one can change the other, a control centre network map which displays real time system status could enable engineers to control assets and mitigate issues.
Because of this, the potential for the technology could boost prospects in improving the UK’s energy sector.
A key example in the use of digital twinning was explored by National Grid ESO. The organisation created a digital replica of the entire British energy landscape to share data, model and predict scenarios that will support decarbonisation.
By creating this digital replica, various innovative methods could be explored prior to full implementation. The digital twin both contributes to and accesses real-time data on the status and operation of other elements of the system with the layered data generated then used for insight.