Impact of network tariffs on household electricity

We are pleased to announce that our study on “Exploring the impact of network tariffs on household electricity expenditures using load profiles and socio-economic characteristics” has been published in Nature Energy.

Price structures in the electricity sector are currently in flux as a result of digital technology advancements that provide the power grid with distributed energy. To ensure a sustainable and economical use of alternative energy, it is necessary to understand the impact that price variation has on end-consumer consumption behaviour.

Cornelia Ferner and Dominik Engel from the CSE, together with experts from the Energieinstitut Linz studied consumer behaviour by evaluating the impact of different price structures on consumption patterns, using smart meter electric power consumption data from 765 Austrian households. Applying data analytic methods, the researchers showed that the consumption behaviour of households with lower income was more affected by daily price fluctuations. Another contributing factor is that lower income households do not have the resources to purchase programmable energy saving appliances and thereby reduce their peak electricity demand.

SGAM Toolbox for Smart Cities

Our researcher Christian Neureiter participated in a face-to-face meeting of the “IEC Systems Committee for Smart Cities” from January 31st until February 2nd in Germany (Dortmund).

The Committee’s scope is to foster the development of standards in the field of electrotechnology to help with the integration, interoperability and effectiveness of city systems.

Christian contributed some of our ideas from the field of Smart Grid engineering to the ongoing discussion in Working Group 3. This Working Group focuses on the development of a Smart City Reference Architecure model.

We are very proud to be a part of this community!

For detailed information see Christians presentation: “The SGAM Toolbox – Possible Adoption for SCRAM”.

Holiday Detection

The planned Smart Meter rollout at a large scale has raised privacy concerns. In order to protect the customer’s privacy, researchers of the Center are exploring the security of user data.

Günther Eibl, Sebastian Burkhart and Dominik Engel investigated holiday detection based on energy consumption data. Their paper named “Unsupervised Holiday Detection from Low-Resolution Smart Metering Data” was presented recently at the 4th International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy in Madeira by Günther Eibl.

The explored dataset is the first realistic (in terms of number of households and measurement duration) smart meter dataset that is analyzed using occurrence or holiday detection methods. Some exemplary households were presented in order to discuss issues like background appliances, daydependent background signal characteristics or the existence of unplausible values. Using a reformulation of the holiday detection problem as a classification problem a new, dedicated holiday detection method is presented.

This work sets the starting point for holiday detection and raises a number of technical issues for future work: modeling and removal of background appliances, choice of thresholds, feature selection, proper modeling and smoothing of the day-dependent night distributions, inclusion of other predictive variables like day of the week and of course evaluation for labelled datasets. Considering the privacy perspective it would be interesting to investigate possible privacy consequences apart from the detection of secondary residences.

For further details, please see:

ICISSP 2018 paper G. Eibl, S. Burkhart, and De. Engel, “Unsupervised Holiday Detection from Low-Resolution Smart Metering Data,” in 4th International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy, 2017. to appear.

Blockchain pilot project started

Blockchain technology might be a key factor in digitization of energy systems. Therefore, Salzburg AG and Verbund AG are testing practical application areas for blockchains in several pilot projects.

An application is tested in a rental flow project in Köstendorf near Salzburg. Mathias Lackner together with Fabian Knirsch, Andreas Unterweger and Dominik Engel are developing a proof of concept for the distribution of rental flow using a private blockchain.

“Blockchain as a tool for transactions can significantly support the integration of distributed power generators for grid operators. As blockchains are transparent and virtually counterfeit-proof, this technology can play a significant role in energy trading”, Engel says.
This pilot project involves the transfer of electricity subscription rights from individual residents in multi-party buildings were electricity is produced by photovoltaic systems. Blockchain mining is done using a small blockchain calculator directly at the apartment owner respectively the tenant, who can then use blockchain to transfer his share of the generated pv power to other residents if, for example, he needs less electricity during his vacation.

“It’s about increasing self-consumption as part of a rental flow solution,” Salzburg AG CEO Leonhard Schitter explains. In addition to the Center, Grid Singularity GmbH also provides software to this project. Commissioning is planned for the first quarter of 2018 and the results will be evaluated by the end of 2018.

Research communication up close

What are the future topics in research? How does the day-to-day work of a researcher look like? Judith Schwarzer recently answered these and other questions asked by curious elementary school pupils at the ‘fti…remixed Speed Dating Event’.

Can houses be made smart power users?
„Yes“, said Judith Schwarzer on this question and explained the technology using a smart home model. For example, electricity can be produced in a house with a solar collector on the roof. At the same time, there are numerous devices that consume electricity, like washing machines, dishwashers or electric cookers, and increasingly more electric cars in the future. Therefore, it is important to find a balance between when the solar collectors reach peak production and when to sensibly charge or use power consumption-heavy devices.
“A smart home makes such decisions supported by information technology. The data that is used for this includes not only the in-house status but also includes information about the surrounding power grid and the amount of available power”, Schwarzer explains. To efficiently use the energy, especially those generated by renewable energy sources, smart grids are required. They can coordinate the production and consumption of electricity as well as possible.

Network specialist and research expert for demand response management
Judith Schwarzer studied physics at the TU Darmstadt and physical education at the German Sport University Cologne. She has been working as an assistant professor and researcher at the ITS degree program of the FH Salzburg for several years. The expert for demand response management at the Center for Secure Energy Informatics specializes in the field of teaching in particular on wireless network technologies.

Picture by: PlanSinn Planung & Kommunikation GmbH

IT security for vehicle access to Salzburg’s Old Town

IT security experts of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences conduct research for a safe access to Salzburg’s Old Town

The access to the old part of Salzburg has been regulated for some time by retractable bollards that are operated by vehicle drivers with access authorization via a manual remote control.
To enable an automated access to the Old Town, which provides higher safety from unauthorized entry, Siemens AG Salzburg commissioned the Center for Secure Energy Informatics at the Information Technology & Systems Management degree program to evaluate possible solutions.

The “Poller Project” was prepared by master student Florian Ramspott and researchers from the center, Michael Fischinger, Norbert Egger and Christian Neureiter; the showcase was presented now.
In the approach of the IT security experts, the vehicle sends data to the bollard system via Bluetooth, the bollard system reads the signal accordingly and authenticates the vehicle. Using demonstrators, Ramspott, Fischinger and Egger showed which data and signals are protected to prevent possible manipulation of the bollards. The system is based on a special software architecture (FREDOSAR), which was developed by the experts of the center for projects in the IOT context. The solution for the safe entry of Salzburg’s Old Town lies in encrypted data transmission with state-of-the-art security levels.

Wolfgang Schneider, Branch Manager of Siemens Salzburg, was pleased that “the project on bollard safety is another successful example of the benefits of research at the Center for Secure Energy Informatics”.


Award for master thesis

Christian Promper, alumnus of the master course Information Technology & Systems Management, was awarded with the “AK Wissenschaftspreis 2017” for his thesis titled “Anomaly Detection in Smart Grids with Imbalanced Data Methods” supervised by Dominik Engel.
This year’s research question of the Salzburg Chamber of Labor was how to improve the working and living conditions of workers in terms of distributive justice.

Detection of anomalies in Smart Grids
In his thesis, Christian Promper dealt with anomaly detection in Smart Grids. The detection of anomalies plays an important role for the trouble-free future energy supply with Smart Grids.
“Currently there is little experience in smart grid anomaly detection. Since anomalies are rare, the use of common detection methods causes poor detection of anomalies, because the imbalance results in significantly more data items being attributed to common behaviour rather than anomalies within smart grids,” says Promper.
As part of his work, he therefore examined various methods to improve the detection rate for rare irregularities in data sets. In a first step Promper examined various ways to account for imbalanced data in general. In addition, Promper created a three-layer smart grid architecture with intrusion detection systems using imbalanced data methods at each level. This proposed approach outperformed common methods.

Center for Secure Energy Informatics opens

Yesterday the Center for Secure Energy Informatics (CSE) was opened.
As the successor of the Josef Ressel Center (2012 – 2017) the CSE extends the existing cooperation with company partners as well as the research fields.

Robert Bosch GmbH, Lieber Lieber Software and Successfactory joined the CSE as new partners in addition to the existing partners Salzburg AG, Salzburg Wohnbau and Siemens.

Besides the new partners the CSE extends its field of research to Electromobility, Smart Home, Internet of Things and Blockchain Technology.

The CSE has been inaugurated on November 7 by the leadership of Salzburg University of Applied Sciendes, by Ministerialrätin Dr. Ulrike Unterer (vice president Christian Doppler Forschungsgesell-schaft) and Dr. Wilfried Haslauer (governor of Salzburg).

FH Salzburg, Eröffnung Zentrum für sichere Energieinformatik – 07.11.2017 Foto: FH/Kolarik Andreas, Wolfgang Schneider, Roland Wernik, Walter Tenschert, Dominik Engl

FH Salzburg, Eröffnung Zentrum für sichere Energieinformatik – 07.11.2017 Foto: FH/Kolarik Andreas, LH Willfried Haslauer, Dominik Engl

Tariff selection for electric vehicles

Fabian Knirsch together with Andreas Unterweger and Dominik Engel researched the use of privacy preserving blockchain technology in the energy trade for electric vehicles charging stations.

Last week Fabian presented their results on “Privacy-preserving block-chain-based electric vehicle charging with dynamic tariff decisions” at the D-A-CH+ Energieinformatik 2017, the renowned conference in the field of energy informatics.

Electric vehicles are gaining widespread adoption and are a key component in the establishment of the smart grid. Beside the increasing number of electric vehicles, a dense and widespread charging infrastructure will be required.
This offers the opportunity for a broad range of different energy providers and charging station operators, both of which can offer energy at different prices depending on demand and supply. While customers benefit from a liberalized market and a wide selection of tariff options, such dynamic pricing use cases are subject to privacy issues and allow to detect the customer’s position and to track vehicles for, e.g., targeted advertisements.
This paper presents a reliable, automated and privacy-preserving selection of charging stations based on pricing and the distance to the electric vehicle. The protocol builds on a blockchain where electric vehicles signal their demand and charging stations send bids similar to an auction. The electric vehicle owner then decides on a particular charging station based on the supply-side offers it receives. This paper shows that the use of blockchains increases the reliability and the transparency of this approach while preserving the privacy of the electric vehicle owners.

For further details, please see:

  • [PDF] [DOI] F. Knirsch, A. Unterweger, and D. Engel, “Privacy-preserving blockchain-based electric vehicle charging with dynamic tariff decisions,” Computer Science – Research and Development, 2017.
    author = {Knirsch, Fabian and Unterweger, Andreas and Engel, Dominik},
    title = {Privacy-preserving blockchain-based electric vehicle charging with dynamic tariff decisions},
    journal = {Computer Science - Research and Development},
    year = {2017},
    month = {9},
    issn = {1865-2042},
    doi = {10.1007/s00450-017-0348-5},
    pdf = {},
    url = {},