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Democratising access to global synthetic smart meter data with LF Energy

Centre for Net Zero   •   13 March 2024

Today, Centre for Net Zero (CNZ) is announcing the creation of a new international open data community, OpenSynth, in partnership with Linux Foundation Energy (LF Energy). This open community will democratise synthetic data to accelerate the decarbonisation of global energy systems.  

Access to smart meter data is essential to rapid and successful energy transitions. Researchers, modellers and policy-makers need to understand how energy demand profiles are changing, in a system that requires greater real time optimisation of demand and supply on the grid. 

Yet current global energy modelling and policymaking is often still based on static and highly aggregated data from the past – when energy flowed in one direction, consumer profiles were relatively predictable, and power generation was highly controllable. The system we are transitioning to is very different; wind and solar generation is variable depending on weather conditions, storage (in the form of batteries and electric vehicles) will play a much more important role, and the increasing digitisation of the sector allows for better real time optimisation of demand and supply, including bi-directional flows of energy.

To realise the potential of these changes in full, access to demand data is key – but it is highly restricted for the most part, as a result of privacy protections. Rather than joining industry calls to unlock raw smart meter data through existing mechanisms, by challenging current data regulations and smart meter legislation, CNZ believes generating synthetic data is the fastest way to achieve widespread, global access to smart meter datasets.

CNZ is already engaged in work that advances these ambitions; our generative AI model, Faraday, outputs synthetic half-hourly consumption data for specific household archetypes. The model is designed to help grid operators, innovators and researchers understand the impacts of electrification, and optimise the design of the future energy system.

LF Energy is an open source foundation accelerating the energy transition by building communities consisting of stakeholders in the technology and energy industries to collaborate with academia and government to develop open source technology solutions, frameworks, specifications, and standards to accelerate digital transformation in power generation, transmission, distribution.

Together, we’re building a community of like-minded organisations, OpenSynth, to empower both holders of raw smart meter data around the world to be able to generate and share synthetic data, and for community members and energy researchers to generate, improve and share algorithms. 

The smart meter data that CNZ will share through OpenSynth won’t just be synthetic, but contain important metadata such as property type, EPC rating and low carbon technology (LCT) ownership, including heat pumps, electric vehicles and batteries. This will enable better understanding of behind-the-meter changes and inform the ongoing development of future demand profiles for different demographics. 

Our initial focus for OpenSynth includes:

(1) Defining what comprises ‘good’ synthetic data – to include how synthetic data in energy might be evaluated for common concepts such as privacy, fidelity and utility

(2) Developing an open repository for synthetic smart meter data and algorithms

(3) Encouraging community members to contribute data by using our initial algorithms

If you’re interested in receiving updates on OpenSynth, feeding into foundational work and/or becoming a community member, please register your interest here

We’re hosting a launch event in London, at Octopus Energy HQ, on April 9th 2024. Tickets are free but places are limited. For more information, and to sign up, check out the event page