At National Grid ESO, we ensure Great Britain has the essential electricity it requires, managing supply and demand to meet the needs of our nation.

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We also have a clear mission: to decarbonise the energy system and bridge the gap to net zero.

The journey to net zero and a carbon free future has already begun, and the way we generate, manage and consume energy is changing for the better.

Continuing to innovate and adapt the energy system requires a range of new tools and a reimagining of how the entire industry can come together to deliver lasting impact.

That is why in 2021, National Grid ESO launched an ambitious, industry-wide mission to digitise our energy system.

We call it the Virtual Energy System.

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We call it the Virtual Energy System

This world first, real-time replica of our entire energy landscape will work in parallel to our physical system. A shared industry asset, the Virtual Energy System will improve our simulation and forecasting abilities to support the long-term vision to operate a zero-carbon electricity system.

Together, as an industry, we can turn this vision into a reality. We are calling on every element of the GB energy industry to lend its support, expertise, and investment.

Introducing the Virtual Energy System

Introducing the Virtual Energy System, powered by ESO

How the system works  

  1. The Virtual Energy System begins with an open framework, with agreed access, operations and security protocols.  

  1. Over time, this is populated by existing and new digital twins – replicas of physical components of our energy system.  

  1. Each digital twin will contribute to and access real-time data on the status and operation of other elements of the system.  

  1. This layered data generates insight, and a virtual environment through which we can innovate new ideas, with the potential to transform the system and support our transition to net zero.

Key Documents and Resources

Developing a Common Framework

It’s vital that different elements of the Digital Twin are compatible and adhere to a Common Framework. Earlier this year, National Grid ESO announced it had appointed professional services firm, Arup, supported by Energy Systems Catapult and Icebreaker One, to articulate the principles and framework needed for parties to develop digital twins which are interoperable and can interact with the Virtual Energy System, using open data.

Watch our previous Show and Tell sessions to see what has already been discussed

These informal virtual sessions explore key elements of the Common Framework development process. 

February 2022 Show and Tell slides

Use the image to watch a recording of the February show and tell or click the text above to download the slides

March 2022 Show and Tell slides

Use the image to watch a recording of the March show and tell or click the text above to download the slides.

Virtual Energy System project receives Strategic Innovation Fund grants

In March, National Grid ESO was awarded a Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) grant to support the Common Framework project.

In addition, National Grid ESO has been awarded a second SIF grant for its CrowdFlex project and is now in the second, Alpha, phase of delivery. The project will explore how technology and consumer behaviour patterns could support the co-ordination of energy consumption, generation and grid management.

The Strategic Innovation Fund is a programme delivered by the UK’s independent energy regulator Ofgem in partnership with Innovate UK. It aims to find and fund ambitious, innovative projects with the potential to accelerate the transition to net zero.

Read more about CrowdFlex

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Stay updated on all the news and key events for the Virtual Energy System project by signing up to our mailing list.

For more information on the Virtual Energy System programme, or to find out how you can get involved, email us using [email protected].