The future of open data at Elexon

There is no doubt that data, combined with use of new technology, will play a huge part in helping to transform the energy markets. It opens up so many new possibilities for both consumers and energy companies.

An example of the ‘rich data’ we expect to see more of in the future is the more detailed information the market will have on electricity consumption if we move to Market-wide Half Hourly Settlement (MHHS) for electricity. On behalf of Ofgem, Elexon is leading the development of the Target Operating Model for MHHS. A major benefit is that it will help energy suppliers to have a clear view on peaks and troughs in consumption. This allows them to roll out  more dynamic and flexible ‘time of use’ energy tariffs, where consumers save money if they shift their energy usage away from times of peak demand.

Elexon makes significant amounts of data freely available

We already make a significant amount of data available for free (under an open licence) through the Balancing Mechanism Reporting Service. The BMRS is the best source for tracking the electricity wholesale market in near real time, including the generation mix, demand and imbalance prices.  

All the data on BMRS has been available for download by API (Application Programming Interface) since September 2016. This was introduced to improve the digital accessibility of BMRS data. The daily average API hits has been 1.7 million in 2019 and the daily average volume of data downloaded was 363 gigabytes This has increased year on year from a daily average of 138,000 API hits and 12 gigabytes of data downloaded in 2016.

Daily average volume of data downloaded through BMRS APIs

Halving the costs of access to some large data sets

Modifications P30, P114 and P315 defined a number of data flows that are available to parties that are not signed up to the BSC, on request. Until September 2019, the fee for access to the complete set of data flows under these Modifications was £3,000 per year. In keeping with the Energy Data Taskforce recommendations we have now halved the charge to £1,500 per year. Currently, there are cases where we are required to charge for certain data sets that we hold, and be very specific about what can (or cannot) be done with that data. 

In some cases the data available under these three modifications are in complex formats to allow efficient transfer over older IT systems. They are not easy to interpret by new users. To resolve this we are developing an interim service where a new version of the most popular data items under P30, P114 and P315 are provided in a simpler to use format on our website. Getting access to these popular items will be free under an open licence. This will be available within the next few months.

The graph below shows the number of data items that were made available by P30, P114 and P315. These three Modifications were raised to increase the number of Settlement related data items available to non-BSC Parties. The benefit to industry of these Modifications was that making the data available would promote competition. By having these data items available to non-BSC parties it facilitateFAPIs entry into the electricity market.

Number of data items made available by previous BSC Modifications

Easy and accessible data

Modification P30

This modification makes three data flows available, which cover 501 data items on market participants, Grid Supply Points and profile classes. These flows are:

  • D0269
  • D0270
  • D0018

If this data wasn’t made available through us, you would have to ask each individual electricity distribution network operator (DNO) to provide it.  

Modification P114

This modification makes four data flows available, which covers 373 data items included. The flows are:

  • SAA-I014
  • CDCA-I029
  • CDCA-I030
  • CDCD-I042

Find out more about the P114 data flows.

The flows include post event data on the Imbalance Price and balancing actions taken to manage the system. It also shows energy consumption data that we use for Settlement.

Modification P315

This modification makes two data flows available available, which contain 51 data items on total monthly or quarterly gross supply market share data available. This includes total numbers of MPANs (Meter Point Administration Numbers) and consumption per supplier. These flows are:

  • D0082
  • D0276

What’s next for open data?

We want to go further on delivering the recommendations of the Data Taskforce, so on 12 December 2019 we raised BSC Modification P398 which proposes that all data that Elexon holds is assumed to be openly available unless the BSC Panel decides that there is a specific reason why it shouldn’t be.

The proposal will be discussed in industry workgroups starting from Monday 13th January.

The ambition of the Modification is to make access to data we hold available to companies, individuals, innovators and others, whether they are operating in the sector or not.

Energy code administrators have access to huge amounts of data which can be the key to rolling out innovation to revolutionise the energy markets. To quote Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web:

‘Critical data must be open and available for reuse by anyone, anywhere, anytime.’

With that in mind, we want to do as much as we can to make our data more usable and accessible. The more data that market participants, innovators and other organisations have available, the easier it will be to develop new products and services which transform the sector.

We need you

We are calling for volunteers to join our industry workgroups, especially if you have experience in managing access to large amounts of significant data.

Please get in touch with the BSC Change team to put your name forward.

Background to Open Data and the Energy Data Taskforce

This summer the Energy Data Taskforce set out its recommendations for making data on the electricity market clearer and more visible.

Elexon played an important role in the task force as an advisor and as part of the steering group for the work. We fully support the task force’s recommendations. As an industry we need to make data more readily available, and in formats that can easily be analysed and understood.


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