Digitalisation has an impact along the entire energy value chain, ranging from generation to transport, distribution, supply and consumption. A system-wide approach and the support of EU countries to promote the cooperation between digital and energy stakeholders are needed so that the digitalisation of energy can better contribute to reach the EU’s ambitious political priorities, including the European Green Deal and making the EU fit for the digital age.
As the technological transformation from analog to digital advances, digital technologies will make energy systems more connected, intelligent, efficient, reliable and sustainable over the coming decades. Technologies that can improve the way we use energy and help find solutions to decarbonise our energy systems include information and communication technologies (ICT), modern sensors, big data and artificial intelligence, and the internet of things.
Digitalisation and the extensive use of data comes with a set of challenges, and requires preserving high privacy, security, safety and ethical standards, particularly for cyber security matters. Ensuring that the ICT sector is efficient and environmentally friendly in its operation and energy consumption is also important. In addition, the development of digital solutions needs an infrastructure fit for the future, with common standards, gigabit networks and secure clouds of both current and next generations. Such an infrastructure is instrumental so that consumers can benefit from new ways to engage in the energy transition and from better services based on digital innovations and more efficient energy use, as well as energy savings.
EU action plan for digitalisation of energy
In October 2022, in addition to the emergency interventions to tackle high energy prices, the Commission adopted the 'Digitalisating the energy system - EU action plan', a system-wide digitalisation energy action plan that aims to contribute to the EU energy policy objectives by supporting the development of a sustainable, (cyber)secure, transparent and competitive market for digital energy services, ensuring data privacy and sovereignty, and supporting investment in digital energy infrastructure.
The plan highlights how new technologies can help improve the efficient use of the energy resources, facilitate the integration of renewables into the grid, and save costs for EU consumers and energy companies. It further aims to ensure that digitalisation of the energy is fully part of the green energy transition in addition to being consistent with the digital targets for 2030. The plan is accompanied by a Staff Working document providing an in-depth explanation of the different actions and lessons that can be learnt from best practices, national initiatives and successful projects.
The plan's key actions to digitalise the EU's energy system are
- helping consumers increase control over their energy use and bills through new digital tools and services
- controlling the energy consumption of the ICT sector, including through an environmental labelling scheme for data centres, an energy label for computers and measures to increase transparency on the energy consumption of telecommunication services
- strengthening the cybersecurity of energy networks through new legislation, including a Network Code for cybersecurity aspects of cross-border electricity flows
Energy digitalisation projects
The European Commission promotes the digitalisation of the energy system through research and innovation projects in the framework of Horizon Europe research programme and in synergy with other programmes, such as the Digital Europe Programme, the LIFE Clean Energy Transition sub-programme, Connecting Europe Facility and Cohesion Funds. A thematic collection of innovative EU-funded research results can be found in the CORDIS Results Pack on the digitalisation of the energy system, which explores the results of EU-funded research projects that address 5 areas key for energy and digitalisation
- developing a European data-sharing infrastructure for new energy services
- empowering citizens by developing tools to support their participation
- enhancing the update of digital technologies in the energy sector
- enhancing the cybersecurity of the energy sector to meet real-time requirements
- promoting climate neutrality actions for the IT sector
- Communication: Digitalising the energy system - EU action plan (COM(2022)552/2) || Staff Working Document (SWD(2022)341)
- Media package: EU action plan on digitalising the energy system (18/10/2022)
- Factsheet: Research & innovation to support the digitalisation of the energy system (October 2022)
- Digitalisation in Urban Energy Systems (May 2022)
- EnTEC study: Digitalisation of energy flexibility (March 2022)
- EU initiatives for smart energy systems
- Europe’s Digital Decade: digital targets for 2030 | European Commission