Digitalization in Energy Sector: Trends and Challenges

© 2019 EPFL

© 2019 EPFL

"SCCER-FURIES is well positioned to utilize the opportunities and challenges arising from the digitalization of the power grid."

Switzerland aims to modernize its economy and society by embracing digitalization and furthermore, by taking a leading role in this domain. This requires the development of capabilities that will enable incorporating digitalization in every aspect of the Swiss economy. To this end, and following the request of the Federal Council, the National Action Plan on digitalization for the year 2019-2020 has been developed providing tangible actions and specific measures. This plan highly affects research institutions and the direction of energy research. Indeed, the energy infrastructure is pointed out as a critical one of national importance that should be secured from both physical and cyber threats. At the same time, the digitalization action plan resonates with the Energy Strategy 2050, which supports (i) the optimization of the power system over enforcement and (ii) the electrification and decentralization of the energy system through digitalization.

The digitalization of the power infrastructure is not a new idea. The application of digital monitoring and control technologies in the power generation and transmission domains has been an important trend for several decades. What is now new is the extent of digitalization on the power system and energy market.

By 2025, 75 billion electrical devices are expected to be connected and sharing data worldwide, providing a wealth of information to consumers, manufacturers and utility providers (Statista, 2018) which opens up vast business opportunities.
Two reports from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) have recently pointed out these aspects. IRENA’s report on “Innovation Landscape for Renewable-Powered Future. Solution to Integrate Variable Renewables” indicates digitalization as a major driver for innovation and solutions of the energy sector challenges. WEF’s report on “Cyber Resilience in the Electricity Ecosystem: Principles and Guidance for Boards” calls for attention to the interconnectivity of the power system, in terms of both grid elements and associated stakeholders. This perspective places the grid in the center of the power system and at the same time, it sets off alarm bells because of what the impact of a breach in the grid, physical or cyber, can have over an entire economy and society.

SCCER-FURIES is well positioned to utilize the opportunities and challenges arising from the digitalization of the power grid. It has the critical mass of capabilities and flexibility to put together new or adjust existing, activities in order to contribute to digital transformation. SCCER-FURIES works hand in hand with the national authorities toward this goal.

(Original article on: SCCER-FURIES 1st Newsletter 2019)