27. Digital Twins


Digital twins are virtual replicas used for understanding, monitoring, diagnosing and forecasting installations, processes and, ultimately, an entire system such as the European electricity or energy system. Digital twins are emerging as future tools for improving performance through outage anticipation and increasing resilience through remote automatic control and near real-time decision-making support. Their aim is both to enable operations to be represented as closely as possible to reality, and to digitally capitalise on descriptive data about assets throughout the lifecycle of structures. Digital twins include four core technologies: the Internet of Things, simulations (using 3D modelling where appropriate), artificial intelligence, and cloud.


According to Fortune Business Insights, the world digital twin market size was valued at $8.60 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from $11.51 billion in 2023 to $137.67 billion by 2030. The DSO Entity and ENTSO-E have signed a Declaration of Intent to develop a Digital Twin of the European Electricity Grid (December 2022) in the presence of the European Commissioner Kadri Simson.

Challenges and opportunities for DSOs

  • Acquisition of more detailed, reliable and augmented asset data (3D technologies).
  • Using digital twins at different geographical scales could help to determine with greater precision the real capacity for integrating renewable energy sources into the grid, and the rate at which they can be incorporated.
  • The digital twins should enable DSOs to work better with their partners: the ability to integrate into third-party ecosystems, extended businesses for DSO activities, market platforms, smart city platforms, etc.
  • Developing DSO use cases (including augmented reality and virtual reality) in various businesses: engineering, operations (predictive maintenance, training, safety), driving, external relations (service providers, cities, customers/suppliers), etc.
  • Relying on high-performance, scalable infrastructures to exploit an ever-increasing amount and variety of internal and external data (Lidar point clouds, 3D, new sensors, etc.).

EDSO Considerations

  • DSOs must follow technological and regulatory developments related to Digital Twins in order to make the most of these advances to improve their operational performance.
  • DSOs must define the functional requirements of digital twins for their needs (physical asset, digital model of the asset, data flow linking the two, continuous mirroring of the asset in the digital model, feedback loop, continuous operation, etc.).
  • DSOs should take an active role in the development of the Digital Twin of the European Electricity Grid promoted by the European Commission. The organisation of data sharing between DSOs, TSOs and market players, as well as the preservation of privacy, will be crucial aspects of this project.

Last update: 28 September 2023