The ongoing digitalization process is influencing our everyday life. Worldwide there are now more mobile phone contracts than people. An ever increasing number of devices are being connected to the Internet: there will be around half a trillion by 2030. Artificial intelligence is developing at a rapid pace. Digital platforms are changing existing business models and creating new ones. Data and information are at the heart of the digitalization process and this is giving rise to issues relating to data protection and data sovereignty. These profound changes are being described as "digital transformation" or "digital revolution". This process needs to be actively structured and subjected to future-oriented regulation, including (or perhaps especially) in the area of energy supply.
Switzerland's energy landscape is also being affected by the digitalization process. Information technologies are already in widespread use today, but their potentials are rapidly changing and this is opening up opportunities that the industry has to exploit. Switzerland's energy suppliers, consumers and regulators therefore have to respond to these rapid developments.
The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) has been monitoring developments in the field of digitalization for a number of years. The issue of "smart grids", or example, was first addressed some time ago. With the introduction of the "Smart Grid Roadmap", activities were initiated that have already been partially incorporated into the applicable regulatory framework. Within the scope of the "Digital Switzerland Strategy", the SFOE is currently discussing the present-day and future challenges posed by digitalization for the energy sector, including: smart metering, the role of a national data hub, data protection, IT security, digital platforms, the Internet of Things, blockchains. The dialog paper "Digitalization in the Energy Sector" forms the basis and prelude to more in-depth work by the SFOE with all concerned stakeholders and society.
The impacts of many of the developments, opportunities and risks associated with digitalization in the energy sector are not yet known. In view of this, together with an interdisciplinary team of experts the SFOE analysed significant developments and presented the findings in a dialogue paper entitled "Digitalisierung im Energiesektor" (Digitalization in the energy sector). This paper contains specific explanations and deliberations for the energy sector concerning technologies, applications and trends, as well as future challenges and regulatory issues. It deals with a total of 14 highly topical issues, including the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and machine learning, digital platforms and coordination models for flexibility, cyber security and multimodal mobility.