Single Electricity Market Operator
A data driven web portal for SEMO
When it comes to a market like SEMO it’s all about the data. Dept was tasked with the design, development and implementation of a new portal website, providing market participants access to the vast quantity of market-related data throughout the transition between the two markets.
A data driven website for a new energy market
The Single Electricity Market (SEM) has been in place in Ireland since 2007. It combined what were two separate markets, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, into one all-island electricity market. When it opened, the SEM was the first market of its kind in the world.
As well as the core SEMO website, Dept also looked at the digital launch of SEMOpx. This is a new, diverse portfolio of energy services for flexible energy trading. It focuses on competitive options to buy and sell electricity in the day-ahead and intraday markets.
a smooth transition to a new electricity market
Free trade across borders is the foundation of the European Union. This principle also applies to the energy sector where the creation of a single European market for electricity and gas is a crucial goal. To achieve this, national electricity markets throughout the EU member states are being aligned with a common model for cross-border electricity trading. EirGrid and SONI (the electricity System Operator for Northern Ireland) therefore embarked on a far-reaching project to establish a new electricity wholesale market on the island of Ireland. The project that enabled these new arrangements was called the Integrated Single Electricity Market (I-SEM). ISEM facilitated the all-island electricity market joining the wider European energy market systems. This involved creating a completely new market with new codes, new systems and new designs so that it would integrate seamlessly into the wider European electricity market.
The Single Electricity Market Operator (SEMO) was set up to control this new electricity market which went live on 01 October 2018. The new market favours the most efficient electricity suppliers by rewarding generation that best addresses the needs of the grid. It could also cut energy bills for businesses and consumers by up to €200 million a year.
Dept was engaged to partner in the development of a new market web portal in late 2016 with the project officially kicking off at the start of 2017. The challenge ahead was not a simple facelift for the existing website. Instead our focus was a complete overhaul of the market as a whole with new data streams, formats and integration mechanisms. Working closely with the internal SEMO team gave us great insight into the underlying operations and significant influence over the shaping of the data. This ultimately enabled us to present it to end-users in more useful ways.
The existing SEMO website was not mobile friendly and offered limited access to data. Much of this vital data on electricity trading had to be accessed on a designated terminal, which required users to access data through dongles. They needed an efficient platform with a robust data management system.
To provide this meant we had to consider that:
- Users could access the information they came for quickly and easily
- The system was robust with high availability and performance levels
- The data being presented was both accurate and timely
- SEMO could notify participants of any issues (e.g. outages or market issues) immediately as they occurred
Due to the nature of its operations, SEMO has a very niche audience, known as market participants. This audience runs the gamut from small and medium-sized entities right up to the major market players such as ESB and Power NI.
This group of electricity sellers and buyers rely on reliable and quick access to data. They also need nearly instant indicators for any market issues or outages. SEMO was looking for a flexible solution to serve their audience. Our solution features easy access, rich filters and a user-friendly interface.
It’s all about data...
While the aim of any digital design agency is to craft beautiful experiences, when it comes to a market like SEMO it’s all about the data. Specifically, how to retrieve it from its source, process it efficiently, and present it in the most easily accessible and useful way possible. When done well, the thousands of hours of effort that went into design and development become invisible. Things work the way users expect them to and they can access the data they need without having to think about how.
To ensure users could access both interactive charts and raw data, we introduced dynamic and static chart reports. All data enters the web portal as “static reports”. These are the raw data files, primarily in Excel or CSV formats, which can be downloaded directly for use within participant’s internal reporting suites. Many of these static reports are parsed and processed to become “dynamic reports” For this, the data within static reports is extracted to drive numerous charts and tables.
Illustrating trends and data
Graphs are crucial to illustrating trends and getting information at a glance in a clean, efficient way. SEMO user groups require different data so our charts are easily adjustable, allowing them to drill through data as per their needs. They can be downloaded in a range of formats. The system updates the charts automatically when a new file comes in, some as often as five-minute intervals. This prevents any data backlogs, ensuring the data is current and useful. The system processes more than a thousand files per day in approximately 60 formats. In total, we’ve processed more than 175,000 files between October and December 2018.
Responsive design has been vital since the start. Developed in Roxen CMS, the website is easily accessed across device types. SEMO’s audience can enjoy a high-quality experience regardless of how they access it. Users can now browse the website without restrictions, right down to responsive charts and publication libraries.
The new SEMO web portal went live in October 2018. It has been a great success to date with the 22 key users who buy the bulk of Irish electricity supply. All of these users are re-registered and using the system on a daily basis. Visually, they found the new websites very impressive with an easy-to-follow layout and useful features like the ability to hover. These allow visitors to see quickly whether there is further information to uncover.
Overall it is simple but effectively delivers some complicated information. Crucially, the portal performance has been at a very high level, with fast page and data download speeds and close to ‘real time’ accuracy of the data. Users have occasionally chosen to use the web portal rather than the larger ABB system application that EirGrid also put in the place. The website had
- Over 270 functional features
- 15 graphing types
- 25 API integrations
- < 1-second download speed for key pages and
- Availability level of 99.99%, which means the website was down for less than 4 hours per year.
The website supported a smooth transition to a new electricity market. In a time of change, it ensured that market participants could still access the data they needed. Long term, it will continue to facilitate the markets in a fast, efficient way, ensuring that electricity demand continues to be met in Ireland and beyond.