When it comes to data and energy, we usually think about the IT industry's carbon impact. Indeed, data collection and storage contribute to global warming. According to the International Energy Agency, data centres consume nearly 1% of global electricity demand, contributing to 0.3% of all global CO2 emissions. In this article, we aim to show how data on energy could, at the same time, contribute to energy consumption reduction and hence help tackle climate change.
What do we mean when we speak of energy data? The first thing that comes to mind for the wider audience is the image of smart meters, for example, Linky (for electricity) or Gazpar (for gas). Still, energy data is all the data produced and collected throughout the chain, from production and transport to distribution and consumption.
The energy data challenges
Laurent Le Breton, founder and director of the company Eegle, explains the main challenges: "First of all, the data is highly detailed: it is possible to evaluate the within-day consumption of each building. Secondly, one should point out that energy data is not easy to handle due to the massive volume of generated data. We quickly end up having to process millions of records! Lastly, there is a major requirement to ensure secure access to this data, which can be sensitive". Facilitating access to energy data and providing insights to its customers is precisely what Eegle, a young innovative company based in Rennes, is doing.
Enedis is the national energy distributor active in the Rennes Métropole area. It is also a partner in the Rudi project. Nicolas Viel, head of the digital and innovation division at Enedis Bretagne, also specifies the major role that data plays today - and will play tomorrow - in the context of the energy transition. Indeed, beyond the challenge of reducing consumption, there is also a paradigm shift due to the growing role of renewable energies. "With renewable energies, we will switch logic: today we produce energy according to the consumption level, tomorrow it will be the opposite".
Let's clarify this point: nowadays, energy production capacity is adapted according to consumption forecasts (and energy can also be imported from neighbouring countries if needed). But the specificity of renewable energies is that the level of production is harder to predict. So, in the near future, we will have to adapt consumption according to the available production. In practice: saying to households that it is time to start their washing machine now because the production of renewable energy is higher at this precise moment.
The Heol project
In the context of Rudi, the Heol project ("the sun", in Breton) of the company Eegle was selected (see Zoom-In #1 for a detailed presentation of the six selected projects). Heol aims to support the development of solarisation projects in the Rennes metropolitan area- that is, studying the possibility of installing photovoltaic panels on the roofs of certain public buildings. The public authority already has access to a wide range of data (solar cadastre, data on buildings, energy consumption data, etc.). But Heol takes it a step further by allowing these data to be cross-referenced and deliver insights. The ultimate aim is to enable Rennes Métropole to prioritise its solarisation projects, particularly by studying the potential for self-consumption (i.e. consumption on the production site itself).
Nicolas Viel is, within Rudi, one of the sponsors of Heol. He explains the benefits of the collaboration: "the exchanges with the Eegle team keep us going. They ask us questions about data access, test our solutions, and give us feedback". This discussion is all the more relevant as the Enedis team that handles data requests at the national level - the Datadesk - is based in Rennes. This proximity also facilitates exchanges and allows for very swift feedback loops.
The added-value of collaborating within Rudi
We asked our two interlocutors what Rudi brought to them. Both had already collaborated on previous projects: what's new with Rudi? For Laurent Le Breton, "the real contribution is, first of all, the opportunity to carry out a concrete project, demonstrate the value of our solutions, and explore new opportunities". He emphasises that it was not possible, within the framework of this experiment, to use the platform's data sharing functions, which were not yet available.
Nicolas Viel also emphasises that participation in Rudi has a positive impact on his company, "it shakes things up" and helps Enedis teams to develop their skills in the area of data and its sharing.
The valorisation of energy data is only one of the many use cases of Rudi. But this example illustrates the need for better collaboration between economic players (startups, manufacturers) and public players to meet society's major challenges. It also shows that data, when used correctly and in a framework that respects privacy, can help meet these challenges. Anything that facilitates and secures data sharing, such as the Rudi platform, is welcome.