Introducing the Virtual Energy System

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The energy industry has made impressive strides along the path to net-zero, while undergoing the transition to digitisation. Our next, shared step can be to capitalise on the potential of a more dynamic, joined-up and intelligent view of our entire energy system.

Great Britain’s energy system is experiencing two fundamental transitions in parallel.

First, the shift to net zero – something we’ve already made significant strides in. The decarbonisation of our sector is well underway, as is the planning for the changing demands on the sector as other industries also undergo this change in their own efforts to reach net zero. 

And second, digitisation. New technology and the prevalence of real-time data have already transformed many aspects of the energy industry, and there are a multitude of commercial projects that bring to life the concept of digital twins of specific IT systems.

An opportunity to come together

We now have an opportunity ahead of us; to bring these parallel transitions together to create something incalculably more powerful, that has the potential to help us take even greater strides towards net zero.

This is why we’re launching an industry-wide programme to develop the Virtual Energy System – a digital twin of Great Britain’s entire energy system.

We recognise it’s an ambitious goal.

But we also recognise that it could be a central tool, bringing together every individual element of our system to create a collective view which will give us more dynamic intelligence around all aspects of the energy industry.

The Virtual Energy System will also provide us all with a virtual environment to test, model and make more accurate forecasts – supporting commercial decision-making, while enabling us to understand the consumer impact of changes before we make them.

This ambition is not out of reach – many elements of the energy industry are already using individual digital twins. The next step on this journey is to work together to find a way to take these digital twins forward, in unison. A way in which we can connect these assets and encourage future development across the entire energy spectrum.

A tool created by our industry, for everyone

The key to the Virtual Energy System will be collaboration – this won’t be the ESO’s tool, but a tool available to our entire industry – a tool that we will all be able to tap into and derive learnings from, that will support future innovation and problem solving.

But we need to start somewhere. We are sharing the concept and setting down the gauntlet. It will only become a reality if it is collaboratively designed and developed by the whole energy industry.

The ESO has set out its initial thinking on what a roadmap could look like, but we need our best and brightest minds to feed into this to shape its future. We know we won’t always reach a perfect consensus every time, but only through engagement and open collaboration will the full benefits be unlocked.

What’s next?

In December we brought the energy industry together with Ofgem and BEIS for a one-day conference. It was an opportunity to explore the proposed programme, and kickstart our feedback and engagement period. From this, we plan to form working groups to begin a deeper dive into the key areas of development that will underpin the entire development journey. To watch back the conference, contribute to our initial stakeholder feedback and view a brief outline on the suggested structure visit our website.

Get Involved and Hear More

Join us on Thursday 10th February 1pm-2pm for a brief introduction to our Common Framework Benchmarking Report ahead of its public release, followed by a workshop around the key socio-technical factors which could make up the common framework of the Virtual Energy System. There will be lots of opportunity to discuss and ask questions during the session, it will be an informal session where we can collaborate around the latest ideas.

Register to attend


You can also join us on the Gemini Call on 8th February for a short introduction before the full session. 

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