One of the defining features of our current era is the proliferation of innovative technologies that constantly generate data and information. Earth observation satellites, ground-based tools such as vehicle-mounted cameras, smart meters, and crowd-sourced platforms all collect and gather data with applications for the energy sector. Whether such data can be fully utilized for accelerating access to energy and its myriad services, however, remains an open question, as the usefulness of these applications is hindered by data-sharing and coordination challenges, market power, and, ironically, lack of data relevant to remote and underserved populations. This document presents a vision and summary of how development and scaling of new tools, and application of big data analysis principles, have the potential to transform energy systems planning, policy design and implementation, and investment decisions.
Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions