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Powering Wales Renewably Through Digital Twins


Written by:

Carolina Tortora

Head of Innovation Strategy and Digital Transformation




As digitalisation drives change across industries, Wales is set to highlight the benefits of digital transformation at a national level, using digital twins to help maximise the renewable generation capacity of the country’s energy network. 

A digital twin is a real-time digital replica of an existing physical asset and is used to share data and model scenarios. By creating an ecosystem of interoperable digital twins, a ‘Virtual Energy System’, we can generate layered data and insights to then innovate new ideas.

In partnership with the Welsh Government, global IT and business consulting firm CGI, National Grid Electricity Distribution and National Grid Electricity Transmission, the ESO, Britain’s electricity system operator, has received funding from Ofgem to create a digital twin of Wales’ electricity system. Under the project banner, Powering Wales Renewably, ESO can now begin working alongside the project partners to support the nation’s pioneering decarbonisation plans. CGI will be providing technical expertise and developing the intelligent modelling solutions for the project.

This project is funded by energy network users and consumers through the Strategic Innovation Fund, a programme from the UK’s independent energy regulator Ofgem managed in partnership with Innovate UK. The project has been awarded funding for the Discovery phase, which will establish the project’s challenges and aims.

So what impact could digital twin technology have in transforming Wales’ power system and meeting its energy needs renewably?

Creating better system visibility and new transmission opportunities

Digital twin technology has the power to equip Wales with a whole-system view of its electricity transmission and distribution network, enabling a wealth of opportunities. The system will help partners identify how networks can enable greater use of Welsh renewable electricity from a whole system perspective, aiding the progress in delivering the Welsh government’s decarbonisation goals. The project will help demonstrate the benefits of interoperable digital twins and will contribute to the aim of generating enough renewable energy to meet the needs of Wales.

Digital twin technology can also be used as an effective capacity management tool, helping manage the network’s connections and constraints, enabling greater system flexibility.

Unlocking benefits to Welsh citizens and communities

At ESO, we are spearheading the Virtual Energy System programme to create a real time digital replica of Great Britain’s entire energy landscape made up of interoperable digital twins. This Welsh digital twin project will allow us to take crucial steps forward in our mission to drive innovation and contribute to advancing sustainability progress.

This project will help identify opportunities for Welsh renewable sources and empower communities by proactively suggesting actionable, location-specific solution options. Utilising digital twin technology will help us address the local needs of Welsh communities, enabling home-produced, low-cost renewable electricity generation. By monitoring data, we will also be able to better understand how the electricity network can support local needs for the decarbonisation of electricity, heat and transport.

With our partners, we are committed to supporting citizens and communities through a clean energy transition. This project is an opportunity to accelerate the deployment of renewables and unlock whole system benefits, further driving net zero progress in Wales.

Delivering for Wales’ future

Employing digital twin technology can support the Welsh Government which recently consulted on increasing the bold targets it set in 2017 to meet 70% of its electricity requirements from Welsh renewable energy sources by 2030.

The Welsh digital twin illustrates how both innovation and collaboration with governmental and energy organisations can help drive a greener future for the country’s wider energy system and its consumers.

Business News Wales