Seven key steps unveiled to digitally unite offshore energy

The Offshore Energy Data Strategy Taskforce unveils measures which aim to create conditions for better data sharing and digitalisation initiatives

The Offshore Energy Data Strategy Taskforce has set out seven key recommendations that will enable the digitalisation of offshore energy – spanning oil, gas, and renewables – and create conditions for better data sharing and digitalisation initiatives.

The taskforce was launched in September 2021 by the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC), Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), and the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA).

It brought together a range of participants – including The Crown Estate (TCE), Crown Estate Scotland (CES), the Technology Leadership Board (TLB), and Renewable UK (RUK) – to encourage a modern, digitalised, and integrated offshore energy sector. It was run by Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) and Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.

With a UK target of achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, there are significant obligations on the offshore energy sector to accelerate the deployment of clean energy sources, such as Hydrogen and Offshore Wind, as well as Carbon Capture and Storage technologies. At the same time, the sector is continuing to reduce emissions across all existing manufacturing, construction, operational and decommissioning endeavours.

Three strategic data and digitalisation offshore energy recommendations 

  • Unifying Data Principles The offshore energy sector should establish a Digital Strategy Group and drive the adoption of Data Best Practice Guidance across the sector.
  • Delivering a Common Data toolkit The offshore energy sector should establish a common data toolkit to facilitate controlled and automated data sharing across the sector.
  • Driving Cross-sector Digitalisation The offshore energy sector should coordinate digitalisation efforts to enable efficient investment and capture cross-sector requirements.

Four workstream recommendations to leverage and coordinate offshore energy data

  • Enabling Whole System Planning The offshore energy sector should create a whole system view of existing and planned infrastructure, aligning different data layers to provide a forward view of development requirements.
  • Advancing Data Coordination Establish a Task Group to drive interoperability of data portals across the sector and promote the discoverability and reuse of existing data through the development of a data portal roadmap.
  • Leveraging Asset Data The offshore energy sector should increase the utilisation of existing operational and asset data, using the Open Data Triage process, mitigation techniques, and standardised data sharing agreements to manage risks.
  • Offshore Emissions Data for Net Zero Enable monitoring of Net Zero targets and advanced emissions tracking by leading on the provision of high-resolution and digitised emissions data monitoring and reporting.

Offshore energy digitalisation strategy will support net zero and energy security

Nic Granger, Director of Corporate, North Sea Transition Authority, said easy access to high-quality digital information is essential to uniting the oil, gas, and renewable sectors and achieving the energy transition, and the NSTA is committed to supporting those goals.

“We welcome the OEDS Taskforce recommendations which will help to support the twin drives to net zero and energy security and the NSTA will continue to play its part in achieving them," she said. 

Simon Pearson, Digital Business Leader at Energy Systems Catapult, said digital and data are the biggest enablers of efforts to decarbonise the UK energy system and the offshore energy sector recognises the need to grasp the opportunity with both hands.

“Taken together, these recommendations make the case for a more pro-active approach to data sharing, but crucially, also provide the tools and processes that enable it to happen in a way that is compatible with commercial interests and behaviours. We’ve outlined the key areas where a collaborative approach to investment and delivery can drive digitalisation across the offshore energy sector.”

Andrew Macdonald, Director of Development and Operations at Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult said Net Zero and Energy Security targets require an acceleration in the deployment of offshore wind and the associated energy transition. 

"This can only be achieved through greater collaboration, and this starts with digitalisation and data sharing. The OEDS Taskforce identifies the opportunities and the challenges, and provides a set of practical recommendations to make this happen.”

Steve Roberts, Interim Head of Offshore Energy 4.0, NZTC said a more pro-active approach to data sharing across the industry is critical, alongside the implementation of digital tools and processes. "The adoption of a whole system approach will enable a modern, digitalised and integrated offshore energy sector for a sustainable future.” He highlighted the table above as an important framework for closer integration.

Chelsea Bradbury, Marine Evidence Manager, The Crown Estate, said in pursuit of a common goal of net zero we are keen to share our experience from years of offshore low carbon data and insight gathering, which includes leading the development of the Marine Data Exchange (MDE), the world’s largest database of offshore renewables survey data and evidence.

"We look forward to working with a broad range of stakeholders to develop these recommendations further and to collaboratively drive positive change," she said.

Annie Breaden, Head of Policy, Crown Estate Scotland, said this taskforce has been an important step in ensuring that different technologies and sectors can work together to establish data strategies that support the continued development of offshore energy.

Dr Dan Brown, Head of Data & Digital, Offshore Energies UK, said the recommendations have been produced through a hugely collaborative process involving diverse stakeholders and they demonstrate how a shared, cooperative mindset is enabling organisations to establish an environment where collaboration can flourish.

“This strategy lays the foundations for a more connected, efficient and sustainable offshore energy industry, and supports an accelerated transition to net zero.”

Increased emphasis on data sharing to meet clean energy goals

Yonna Vitanova, Senior Policy Analyst, RenewableUK, said it is vital that all parts of the energy sector work closely together so that we can accelerate the transition to net zero. Significant advancements in data and digitalisation will play a crucial role in enabling us to decarbonise as fast as possible.

"Sharing data unlocks opportunities to build a more efficient system and to drive down costs for consumers. That’s why the work of the Taskforce is so important – their key recommendations provide a pathway for us to achieve our clean energy goals.”

Ed Evans, Energy Specialist, The Open Data Institute, added that sharing data unlocks value is proven. Value from data is created, often in unexpected ways, for the sharer and all those within the ecosystem. 

"The energy transition towards net zero requires data sharing to drive innovation and facilitate increased collaboration from the whole range of organisations engaged in the offshore energy sector," he said.

“The Open Data Institute has been very pleased to work with the diverse team on this thorough assessment of the landscape and supports the strong recommendations. Focusing on the data sharing ecosystem and the required leadership illuminates the pathway and will accelerate progress.”

Steve Johnson, at the Technology Leadership Board, said the Oil and Gas Sector has already seen the value achieved by unlocking data and adopting digital technologies. Still, there is a need for acceleration in digitalisation to address the future UK Energy requirements and the demands of the Energy Transition.

“The Offshore Energy Digital and Data Strategy Taskforce provides a critical set of recommendations, which gives the basis for a more integrated and coordinated approach to meet the opportunities and challenges of our future.”

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