Datahub is a form of a centralized information sharing solution that promises to revolutionize the electricity retail market in the future. Datahub is used to pool together market process information and to share it between electricity Suppliers and Distribution System Operators (DSO). The goal of Fingrid’s Datahub project is to make processes, such as supplier switching, move-in and move-out, faster and more efficient, and to improve the quality of data.
Datahub is not visible to consumers, and consumers cannot access the system directly. However, datahub improves customers’ experience of services, as their records are immediately accessible to suppliers. For example, when a customer wants to switch supplier, the new supplier can confirm the customer’s contract at the time of sale and eliminate the current five-day wait. In addition, datahub creates potential for completely new kinds of services, as the availability of data such as meter values allows third parties to offer new solutions to electricity customers. We are hoping to see an influx of new, innovative solutions of this kind, which could increase customers’ satisfaction in the electricity market.
For energy companies, the implementation of a datahub will mean changes to systems but also to operating models. In the future, there will only be one party involved in exchanging information. Data on customers, contracts, metering points and time series from all companies will be available from a single, shared source, and in a uniform format. The accuracy of information is especially important in centralized systems, and it is paramount that each market participant ensures the integrity of their data. On the other hand, as long as the core data are correct, centralized systems help to reduce the likelihood of mistakes and increase the efficiency of the market from the perspective of all parties.
Datahub also makes it possible to set up a harmonized electricity retail market across the Nordic countries. The introduction of a Finnish datahub could, for example, lead to Norwegians beginning to buy their electricity from cheaper Finnish suppliers. The Finnish Datahub project uses the lessons learnt from Denmark’s datahub experiment, which has progressed to the production stage, and is keeping a close eye on a datahub project that is currently in progress in Norway. Norway plans to implement its datahub solution in 2017. Sweden is slightly behind Finland in their datahub development.
Involvement in a Technological Working Group
The datahub project is a massive undertaking, and three working groups of stakeholders were set up last year to implement it: a Process Group, a Technological Working Group, and a Follow-Up Group. The Process Working Group is responsible for configuring business processes for datahub and for ensuring that the model will meet the needs of the industry in the future. The working group consists of representatives of electricity suppliers and distribution system operators. The Technological Working Group is responsible for turning the Process Working Group’s business processes into message descriptions. Implementing guide for application will be based on process descriptions and the chosen data model. Interchanging of information is an important stage in the process, and the working group’s role in it will be to examine information security and performance issues, as well as the interfaces to be adopted.
The Technological Working Group comprises representatives of the electricity industry, information system suppliers, and Fingrid. My role in the working group is to represent information exchange operators.
Being involved in the working group has been extremely interesting. Since October, we have been brainstorming ways to make processes run as smoothly as possible and so that all interested parties will have access to accurate, up-to-date information from the beginning. What information is necessary, and who needs it and for what? What information may become necessary in the future?
Towards more efficient information exchange
The implementation of a datahub will require a complete overhaul of energy companies’ information systems. Now is a good time to stop and think about an operating model for a next-generation electricity market. The datahub project is now at the configuration stage, and there is still time to make changes. Datahub will be in use for next decades. In the future, billing could be based, instead of consumption, on other factors such as power. One example of a new approach could be a more supplier-driven model, in which customers would only have a single contract with their supplier and DSO. The customer’s perspective must not be forgotten either: It is important to remember that most end users would ideally just have a single contract and pay all their energy-related costs on the basis of a single bill. End users are unlikely to care how this is implemented technologically. The idea of the datahub project is to create a sustainable foundation for a next-generation electricity market.
All in all, the datahub project is one of the most exciting initiatives in the energy industry at the moment. I would recommend all those involved in the energy industry to familiarize themselves with the documentation and to comment on the draft version of the proposal, Sähkön vähittäismarkkinoiden liiketoimintaprosessit Datahubissa LUONNOS [in Finnish], by 19 February. There is still time to have a say.
For the documentation and more information about the datahub project, visit Fingrid’s website at:
The blogger is a Senior Specialist at Enfo’s Financial Process Services unit. She has almost 15 years of experience of the energy industry. Merja is also a member of the Technological Working Group for the Datahub project.