UK-based Icebreaker One releases policy documents covering the shared use of non-open data

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Robbie Morrison

Dec 21, 2021, 4:02:39 AM12/21/21
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Dear all

TL:DR: UK-based Icebreaker One released three data policy documents in July 2021 outlining legal and technical processes for sharing non-open data within the UK energy sector.  From my knowledge, their work is highly original in this context.


The London‑based Icebreaker One team have been developing a trusted brokerage system (my terminology not theirs) for protected energy sector data within the United Kingdom. Their platform is named "Open Energy". The platform is also designed to cater for public data under genuinely open CC‑BY‑4.0 licensing as well.

That latter class of public data is either not bound by personal or commercial privacy considerations or has been released under mandated reporting for reasons of public interest.  The UK Ofgem regulator has also been working up policy in this context too (with my recent blog here):

But of course, not all energy sector data can be made public under CC‑BY‑4.0 licensing. And the Open Energy platform aims to provide lower friction for those use‑cases by removing the need for the contractual and technical arrangements to negotiated on an individual basis.

The Open Energy platform was not specifically designed to service smart grid concepts (indeed that term is not listed in their glossary). But it may well assist, while noting that not all smart grid traffic will require or even benefit from trusted brokerage.

Icebreaker One therefore released the following three policy documents and accompanying glossary:

These policy documents do not contain draft legal texts for the IB1 licensing arrangements — that will be a separate and subsequent exercise. The brokerage system works via a process of requests and grants. Time‑bounded properties (such as embargo and expiry) are supported. Various restrictions are supported: direct internal use only, internal use with adaptation, internal use with combine or remix, and finally reworking and redistribution within a specified ecosystem.

The document covering their data licensing model (the first listed above) contains the following three example scenarios:

  • planned distribution network constraint
  • public electric vehicle charge point logs
  • solar panel performance datasets

The United Kingdom has encompassing data protection laws, relative to compatible countries — specifically an effort‑based threshold for copyright and difficult‑to‑determine database protection — so the architectural and legal work by IB1 should be relatively exportable to other jurisdictions.


Broad‑brush energy system models should be able to continue with only publicly available datasets — indeed, that approach is preferable. But more specialist models could well make use of data sourced under trusted brokerage. I did not see a use‑case for aggregating and anonymizing data for subsequent publication under open licensing but I guess that use‑case could be supported too.  As noted, Ofgem is also working on this application and is probably the more appropriate venue.

On that last use‑case of aggregated data, the proposed European Union Data Act was recently returned from the European Parliament for another loop, in part because the current business‑to‑government (B2G) provisions were considered too open ended.  The next draft is scheduled for 23 February 2022.  One change I would like to see (and have suggested) is that 96/9/EC database protection be explicitly removed from information released under statutory reporting (such as that held on the ENTSO‑E Transparency Platform).

Finally, just to record that I participated in the Icebreaker One advisory group AG2 on policy, legal and regulatory for the first phase but not subsequent phases. I elected not to continue because my primary interest is in fully open data not brokered data. But IB1 are a good crew and Gavin Starks, who founded the project, is extremely astute.

with best wishes, Robbie

Robbie Morrison
Address: Schillerstrasse 85, 10627 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49.30.612-87617

Robbie Morrison

Dec 21, 2021, 4:26:39 AM12/21/21

Corrected titles and/or URLs in the various Icebreaker One policy documents (sorry):


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