The digitisation of the energy sector has put cyber security at the top of the UK's agenda

Courtney Goldsmith
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The government warned Britain's nuclear reactors are at risk of cyber attacks (Source: Getty)

UK energy leaders are more worried about the increasing risk of cyber attacks caused by the rise in digitisation of energy systems than other countries around the world, new research suggests.

In a survey of 1,200 energy leaders in 95 countries, the UK ranked digitisation and cyber threats as more significant in terms of both impact and uncertainty on the sector.

The rapid expansion of solar, the smart meter roll-out and the introduction of half hourly metering has increased the level of digital reliance, resulting in increased risks to cyber threats, the World Energy Issues Monitor 2017 said.

This follows news earlier this week that Britain's nuclear power stations were told by the government to tighten their defences as terrorist threats to electronic security systems increase.

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Other key uncertainties that keep Britain's energy leaders awake at night were cohesion in the European Union post-Brexit, electric storage and commodity prices. Uncertainty around commodity prices was the number one global "insomnia issue".

Top action priorities, or the issues keeping Britain's energy leaders busy at work, were renewable energy, the global climate framework, energy efficiency and electricity prices.

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Dr Christoph Frei, secretary general of the council said: "Our survey shows that energy leaders face and acknowledge disruptive change."

The issues defining the energy agenda around the world today were far from the sector's priorities just five years ago, Frei said.

Although it poses security risks, Frei said digitisation is one of the most exciting developments in the sector.

"The need to understand the new business models that are driven by intelligence from big data and enhanced supply chain management, machine learning and automated system response, prosumer and cloud solutions and enabling energy block-chains is probably the most exciting development on the desks of energy leaders with as many visionary implications as practical unknowns," Frei said.

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