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National Grid ESO to develop digital twin of Britain’s energy system

Different components of the energy system will have digital twin, which will be combined within a framework developed by National Grid ESO. Image: Getty.

Different components of the energy system will have digital twin, which will be combined within a framework developed by National Grid ESO. Image: Getty.

National Grid ESO has launched a new project to build a digital replica of the entire British energy landscape.

The Virtual Energy System will create a virtual environment to share data, model and predict scenarios that will support decarbonisation. It will work as a digital twin for the current energy system, enabling a unified, real-time view of every part of the system that will provide insight into how to cut emissions.

The project will include the development of an open framework, with agreed access, operations and security protocols. Over time, existing and new digital twins that act as replicas of physical components will be added to this framework, populating it.

Each of these individual digital twins will both contribute to and access real-time data on the status and operation of other elements of the system. The layered data this generates will be used for insight.

“As we evolve and transition to a greener future, we’ll need to respond to a range of future challenges. And how we innovate and adapt the energy system will require a range of tools, which is where the Virtual Energy System comes in - a shared, digital national asset to help optimise the route to net zero,” said Fintan Slye, executive director of National Grid ESO.

“This is an ambitious world-first programme, and we can’t build it alone. We need to come together, as an industry, to help turn this vision into a reality if we are to realise a sustainable energy network for the future.”

The Virtual Energy System was officially launched at an industry event at the COP26 climate conference, which is currently underway in Glasgow. A consultation with industry will be opened in December, as well as further events to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the programme as it develops.

It follows National Grid ESO also unveiling a new dashboard that shows the carbon intensity of the grid at any time, including the emissions related to balancing operations.

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