DigiPoll@Energy 2020: Digitalization in the Energy Sector - Status-quo, outlook and need for action

Project Number 428

Digitalization and Industry 4.0 will have a far-reaching impact on the energy sector. For stakeholders of all value stream steps and generation technologies, new opportunities and chances as well as new challenges arise.

The VGB project DigiPoll@Energy (VGB P428) analyses the view on digitalization as well as the current status and the expected development among ordinary VGB members with the objective to prepare the ground for joint research projects and support activities by VGB for its members. Therefore, an online survey was launched in December 2019. Extensive answers were submitted by 35 participants. Subsequently deep dive interviews with 5 interview partners were conducted to clarify questions and go into more detail.

The survey reveals that companies are well aware of the upcoming changes, both on the benefit as well as the risk side. Although some first steps have been taken, a substantial need to further drive digitalization measures becomes apparent. There are indications that the implementation and use of actual digital applications follows the implementation of digitalization measures with a time lag, hence swift action is recommended. Besides the current low implementation level of applications many companies are at present experimenting with new applications, thus a significant future impact can be expected. One of the biggest challenges for many companies appears to be to connect different systems and devices into a central network and database.

The project was carried out between December 2019 and June 2020 by Paul Weigel supervised by Professor Klaus Görner at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute of Environmental Process Engineering and Plant Design, in close cooperation with VGB.

The complementary study DIGI STEAM (VGB Project 429) investigates digitalization possibilities from a technical viewpoint, in particular focusing on Digital Twins in steam supply systems.