20 Digital Energy Concepts You Should Know

Understanding how fast-evolving digital technologies are being applied to the energy system is critical to aligning public policy with a digital energy future. Below are 20 concepts that policymakers and other energy leaders should know.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior; machine learning, a type of AI that allows software applications to become more accurate without being explicitly programmed, can enable increased automation in the energy system.

  • Autonomous Vehicle

    A vehicle that can operate itself without human guidance or intervention; also called a driverless vehicle, robot vehicle, or self-driving vehicle.

  • Big Data

    Very large data sets that can be analyzed by computers to reveal patterns and trends, especially relating to human behavior; the process of turning Big Data into useable information is called data analytics.

  • Blockchain

    A digital ledger or database in which transactions are recorded chronologically, creating a permanent record that is transparent to anyone connected to the network; blockchain technologies are being deployed in the energy system to enable secure, decentralized transactions and Digital MRV

  • Crowdsourcing

    The practice of obtaining input or funding for a question or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people (either paid or unpaid), typically over the internet.

  • Digital MRV (Measurement, Reporting, and Verification)

    Tools for generating data (such as energy attributes) that quantify, communicate, and authenticate outcomes; Digital MRV can improve the speed and accuracy of regulatory reporting, lower reporting and verification costs, and increase the scalability and security of transactions.

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  • Disintermediation

    Reducing intermediaries between producers and consumers, for example by removing policy barriers to facilitate new markets, enable new forms of transactions, and empower consumers.

  • Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)

    A resource on the distribution system or behind a customer meter that can provide electricity generation or storage, reduce demand, or address the energy, capacity, or ancillary services needs of the distribution grid; DERs may also include: microgrids; aggregations of multiple DERs at a virtual point of interconnection; and cogeneration facilities that produces steam, heat, or other energy as a byproduct of another process.

  • Energy Attributes

    A characteristic of electricity or fuel that is desirable or represents value to a regulatory authority and/or consumers; examples include reliability and resiliency; sustainability, including fuel source and supply chain characteristics; and performance attributes specific to an application or use.

  • Energy Cloud

    A network, similar to the information technology cloud, that can enable multi-directional communication and allow consumers to access electricity generation, power management, and other energy services on demand.

  • Energy Services

    Energy generation, storage, and management, often bundled into a package of services for customers ranging from grid operators and governments to businesses and individuals.

  • Internet of Things

    A network of appliances, electronics, mobile devices, and sensors that can communicate and exchange data.

  • Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)

    The application of sensors, data analytics, and communications technologies to ground transportation in order to improve safety, mobility and efficiency; includes applications for easing congestion, improving traffic management, and minimizing environmental impact.

  • Mobility Services

    Transportation offered through a platform where users can create, customize, manage, and pay for services; examples include ride sharing, bike sharing, and emerging car subscription models.

  • Net Metering

    A billing mechanism that credits energy system owners for the electricity they generate and contribute to the grid, such as through rooftop solar.

  • Prosumer

    A customer that both produces and consumes a product or service, such as electricity or energy storage.

  • Sharing Economy

    An economic model where peer-to-peer online platforms enable community-based acquisition, sales, and/or sharing of goods and services.

  • Virtual Power Plant

    An aggregation of DERs that can provide the same energy services as a traditional, centralized power plant.

  • V2G (Vehicle to Grid)

    A system that enables communication between electric vehicles and the power grid, including for the purpose of selling or setting prices for energy services

  • V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle)

    A system that enables transmission of data between vehicles.