FAQs

Open Energy in five minutes: watch a video summary of our work on MEDA and EDVP

We will be updating these FAQs on a regular basis. If you can’t find information you are looking for here or elsewhere on the website, please contact us on openenergy@icebreakerone.org.

Open Energy aims to revolutionise the way energy data is shared in the UK and create an energy data ecosystem that works for everyone. Building on the principles of Open Banking, we’re working directly with industry to develop the principles and practice to enable data sharing at sector-scale. At present (April 2021) we are beginning user testing around the core use case (a Local Authority Community Retrofit). We are creating an open standard for data sharing in the energy sector by working with two Advisory Groups, a Review Group and a Steering Group made up of a diverse group of sector representatives, and building the technology that underpins it (the Open Energy Governance Platform). In order to increase energy data discoverability of both Open and Shared data, we’ve also built an Energy Data Search.
Open Energy is not an attempt to centralise the storage of energy data - we do not store the data shared through our ecosystem. Instead, we are building the infrastructure to enable distributed parties to share data easily and securely. To do this, we are developing bespoke legal, policy and technical architecture compliant with the Financial-grade API specification (we don’t use a blockchain). We also aim to make our services as inclusive as possible to a sector that is changing quickly and handles multiple types of data - including from legacy systems. This means that we are not mandating the use of any single data schema or data standard in our systems. Rather, we aim to develop an inclusive framework and guidance for data sharing, via the Open Energy Governance Platform, that can support a range of organisations to participate. Finally, Open Energy also aims to facilitate a competitive marketplace for energy data sharing. As such, we do not specify prices for data exchanged through our ecosystem.
Open Energy is Icebreaker One’s competitive solution to the Modernising Energy Data Access (MEDA) initiative launched by a cross section of government departments (BEIS, Innovate UK and Ofgem) in 2019. This is a £103m project that aims to revolutionise the way data is shared across the diverse energy sector in the UK.
Our long term vision is to modernise access to the energy data across industry and address decarbonisation and the climate crisis via economic innovation. Roll out of the Open Energy project and principles will enable actors in the energy industry to interact better with each other, allowing governments, investors, businesses and consumers to make better decisions to drive to Net Zero.
Open Energy is focusing on high-level stakeholder engagement. The team has convened Advisory Groups from the energy sector and beyond to collaboratively tackle the MEDA challenges.
If you are in industry, academia, government, technology or on the consumer side of the energy sector, and want to be involved in building the energy data ecosystem, we want to hear from you! Contact us via email (openenergy@icebreakerone.org), sign up as a beta tester or join the consultation. For a full list of all the ways you can support/follow Open Energy, please see our JOIN page.
MEDA Phase 1 was research-based. We spoke to over 200 individuals, via webinars and 1-2-1 interviews, to find out what modernising the energy data system meant to them. Our research found that the energy data ecosystem is a detailed web of information that is only going to increase in complexity as the system becomes digitised and data-driven. Interviewees from Phase 1 expressed the need for a clear roadmap to transition from a fragmented data landscape to a robust, decentralised, federated data infrastructure. They also believe that “there can be no single platform for all data and use cases'' and “there will be significant barriers to adoption around the centralisation of commercial data''. Find out more about the background to this work.
A set of Advisory Groups made up of over 60 industry and sector experts came together to guide the development of an Open Energy Data Search and Governance Platform prototype which enables the sharing of data securely, while making it easily searchable and usable.

In this phase, which runs until July 31st 2021, we’re taking the prototype Energy Data Search and Open Energy Governance Platform (OEGP) we built in Phase 2, and making them part of a live service, with real users. This is supported by the development of a sustainable Membership model. Members will join Open Energy, which is a not-for-profit organisation. They will be charged a fee that is transparent, proportionate, and represents fair value. Fees will not present an obstacle to joining, so even the smallest start-up, not-for-profit or academic institution can participate. Membership requires accreditation of each organisation that joins, and agreement to adhere to the policies/rules of Open Energy. This then allows use of the Governance Platform. Importantly, we are ensuring that Membership will be shaped by the sector, to meet sector needs. At present (April 2021) we are currently beginning user testing around the core use case (a Local Authority Community Retrofit). The next key milestones for MEDA Phase 3 are:

  • May: Private Beta with curated industry users;
  • June: Public Beta and wider engagement
  • July: Plan for live service launch delivered

Beyond this we will launch an operational service, with market-ready scaleable Energy Data Search capability and Governance Platform. As an Implementation Entity with a sustainable model, Open Energy will be providing an open standard for energy data sharing and developing an active ecosystem.

Beyond 31st July, Open Energy will require a sustainable business model. This will enable the initiative to scale, onboarding Members, ensuring more data becomes discoverable, expanding the range of use cases supported and ensuring a strong foundation for a thriving, innovative ecosystem.

Yes. Open Energy is currently governed by two Advisory Groups and a Steering Group. The membership of these groups is designed to represent a range of different types of organisations in the energy sector, and broader digital sector where relevant. Open Energy is guided by our principle of ‘by the sector, for the sector’ and we will review our governance beyond Phase 3 to ensure we continue to align with this principle. Open Energy members can apply to join the Advisory and Steering Groups. However, membership of these groups will not be restricted to members only and non-members may be invited to join in order to balance representation.

If you are interested in participating in future Open Energy governance mechanisms please contact openenergy@icebreakerone.org.

A single core use case - using shared energy data to help Local Authorities plan the retrofit and installation of low-carbon technologies in social housing - is being worked on by all the Advisory Groups. We welcome suggestions of future use cases to be explored beyond the current phase of Open Energy here.

We envisage that the LA would be able to undertake scenario planning to understand the impact of low carbon technology deployments and discuss this with the DNO. So, the installation of EV charge points, heat pumps etc. will increase the import power requirements which will need to be validated against the available headroom capacity. The DNO would need to understand these and work with the LA to make sure LCT installations are aligned to the DNO's ability to support these. Hence, the DNO would need to understand the plans and may make recommendations relating to the optimum locations on the network for LCT deployments.

DNOs are launching new digital tools to support proactive planning activities, for example, substation capacity maps to facilitate the installation of Electric Vehicle charging points. These tools can be used by LAs in advance of engaging formally with the DNO to discuss major developments.

Open Energy provides two new capabilities.

Energy Data Search.

Users can search for published energy data that meets their specific requirements. Searches can be filtered so that specific data types and locations can be discovered. The data is signposted and the user can see if the data is “open” or “shared”. If the data is open, then it can be accessed directly. If it is shared then it can only be accessed if the user is an approved Member of Open Energy.

Governance Platform.

This will enable Members to publish and access energy data easily without requiring a bilateral contract or having to agree to a unique set of terms and conditions every time a new data sharing arrangement is set up. Members must be accredited to join Open Energy, which is a trust framework enabling secure access to energy data. This requires agreeing to Open Energy rules and common data sharing licences, removing the need for bilateral contracts to share data between parties. These rules are applied automatically by the Governance Platform to allow participant access to data.

Introducing these new capabilities will be extremely far reaching and will have a very significant impact. The Energy Data Search capability will make energy data much easier to discover, and the Governance Platform will unlock access to energy data. In combination, these are the key enablers for development of a trusted ecosystem of data providers and energy data service providers. We aim to create an ecosystem similar to that which has developed in Open Banking, where service providers use data to create and market a wide range of propositions. There are over 8,000 organisations in the energy sector, and Open Energy will allow these to become more creative and innovative, and to have far greater levels of insight and analysis than ever before. This will allow easier decentralisation and faster decarbonisation as the UK drives towards Net Zero, and along with other Smart Data initiatives, will be a core enabling capability in the Government’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

Personal data is defined under GDPR as: ‘any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (data subject).’ This is either directly or indirectly - where data or information is combined.  Data ceases to be personal when it is made anonymous, and an individual is no longer identifiable. But for data to be truly anonymised, the anonymisation must be irreversible. Data that has been encrypted, de-identified or pseudonymised but can be used to re-identify a person is still personal data.

Open Energy will not enable the sharing of personal data, as defined under UK and EU law, in Phase 3. At present, we are prioritising development of non-personal data sharing in order to satisfy the data requirements of our core use case. Extension of the ecosystem to include personal data will be considered after Phase 3, subject to consultation.

Open Energy aims to serve all actors looking to share energy data, access energy data, or both! We are designing our service to be accessible for all actors - from large companies through small-scale research groups or non-profits. Our Energy Data Search function is free and open to the public. Anyone can use this to discover useful datasets and be linked directly to Open data. Beyond this, actors can join the Open Energy membership as Data Providers, Service Providers, or both. Membership enables sharing of and/or access to more sensitive datasets via our Governance Platform.

We delivered a three-month programme of deep engagement with stakeholders across the energy sector, which was completed in November 2020. Since then, we have been working in close consultation with two Advisory Groups and a Steering Group made up of a diverse group of sector representatives, as we build and shape the Open Energy service and membership model. We also have a Review Track group, again drawn from the energy sector, with whom we consult on an ongoing basis. We publish our work regularly and invite comment from all interested parties. We believe that industry engagement is critical to success, which is why we have taken this collaborative approach. Understanding and answering the user's needs is what makes our approach different.

If you are interested in being involved in our future work, please email us on openenergy@icebreakerone.org.

The overall purpose of the Advisory Groups is to work on and develop the Open Energy Standard, and provide feedback and advice on other elements of the energy data infrastructure being developed as part of the project. Each Advisory Group has two Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs meet on a regular basis to talk about developments and updates. The Advisory Groups meet monthly to discuss findings, challenges and next steps.

Because this is what we have heard from the energy sector. In Phase 1, we engaged 200+ stakeholders from across the energy sector who all articulated a need for an open standards-based approach to facilitate the sharing of data within the industry. We recognise that the users' needs are diverse and encompass millions of datasets from consumers, providers and regulators. Our research in Phase 1 highlighted the risks to implementation unless governance is addressed as well as an overwhelming objection to a ‘single data platform’.

Our recommendation is to create a critical piece of innovation (the Open Energy Governance Platform) which will enable a decentralised approach, in which data and metadata is distributed, always up-to-date, and managed real time on data custodians' servers. This platform will provide the common rules, controls and processes needed for access, discovery, security, commercial applications, privacy and regulatory compliance. This proven approach, novel to energy, will form the Common Data Architecture enabling an energy data ecosystem.

As described above, we believe that the long-term impact from MEDA will be extremely significant, enabling new green economic opportunities, supporting evolution of the energy sector and contributing significantly to action on climate change. It is also an important proof-point for the use of Smart Data, demonstrating through practical application that the approach first developed for Open Banking can be adapted to enable data sharing across other sectors.
Open Energy is the only service of its nature in the UK. While there are many ‘data portals’ or ‘data platforms’ being developed, Open Energy differs from these initiatives in two important ways. Firstly, we are building the infrastructure to share data held by multiple partners - we do not store any of this data ourselves. Secondly, we are not for profit and guided by extensive sector consultation. This means our membership fees are designed only to cover the running costs and future development of the service in a direction that serves the needs of the sector in working towards Net Zero.

MEDApps Competition FAQs

The Modernising Energy Data Applications (MEDApps) competition is a £2m funding competition launched by SBRI, part of Innovate UK. The purpose is to help accelerate digitalisation and complement the MEDA programme.
MEDApps data applications help enable the complex coordination of infrastructure upgrades through the energy transition. Integrated approaches across energy, transport, telecoms, water and other sectors are becoming increasingly important. The interactions and optimisation of infrastructure types across sectors will be vital to achieve deep decarbonisation, outstanding user experiences, and an efficient transition to a Net Zero society that works for people from all backgrounds.
A MEDApps service provider must be onboarded to the Open Energy Governance Platform (OEGP). The conditions for this are under development and will be an output from our Policy, Regulatory and Legal Advisory Group. Once onboarded, the MEDApps service provider will be able to request access to data from a data provider, according to pre-agreed terms and conditions. The OEGP ensures that only authorised service providers can access the data, provides the control point over the specific datasets, signposts the API endpoints, and allows the data provider to recognise that it is a legitimate request from an authenticated MEDApps service provider.
It is the mechanism by which Open Energy will be made accessible and secure for the widest possible range of participants: it is the central foundation of trust for the Open Energy ecosystem. The OEGP is built on the same principles and technology approach of the successful Open Banking (UK) Directory which now enables around 300 participants to share data from over 500m API calls every month. It ensures all approved parties can establish and provide trusted identities for their organisation and for their related Applications. It also provides a rich set of functional technology services to support the lifecycle management of all entities and related credentials, encryption keys and digital certificates for organisations, their human contacts and API platform software instances. It removes the risk of fragmentation of standards and avoids the need for participants to duplicate effort, which is vital for scalability and interoperability.
There are two parts to the technical requirements: the functional specifications and the security specifications. The functional API specifications describe what format any data will be made available, and the Security specifications confirm which security profile should be used. API specifications are being developed as part of the programme.
MEDApps will be highly secure. The core security profile will be the tried and tested OpenID FAPI standard, which is acknowledged as the global gold standard for sensitive data sharing. It is the standard already used successfully in the UK by the Open Banking ecosystem, so is a familiar standard for many companies.
The Open Energy Governance Platform will include a Sandbox environment which will be open for participants to register themselves and their apps. Once registration is complete, onboarding to any registered provider is straightforward (and can be automated) for testing purposes.
Part of the Open Energy Governance Platform is the Energy Data Search. The tool aggregates information about available datasets and offers rich search capabilities to find just the data you need. It offers querying by various parameters such as geospatial boundaries, the license a dataset is governed under, files types and many more. Under the hood the Energy Data Search crawls metadata from different decentralised sources to keep track of the energy data landscape. It also allows data owners that currently do not advertise metadata about their datasets to create metadata in a matter of a few simple clicks. Nobody needs to worry about learning new standards and codifying information by hand.