Green Energy Cerfiticates presented at Event Horizon 2018

The utilization of blockchain technology in the energy domain is among the currently most discussed topics in the energy industry.
The Event Horizon 2018 is dedicated to explore and discuss the possibilities and challenge of blockchain technology in the energy domain and to provide a stage for connecting academia, industry, and startups in the field.

Among the 20 papers selected for presenting their work in the Academia Deep Dive Session, Clemens Brunner and Fabian Knirsch present their work on Green Energy Certificates. The proposed scheme allows customers in the smart grid to verify the certified origin of kWh and to verify that energy was produced sustainably from renewable resources. Both, utility providers and privately owned small power plants benefit form certified and verifiable power sources and customers benefit from traceable green energy produced from renewable resources such as solar, wind or water power.
The approach builds on a blockchain for permission-less, transparent, and decentralized verification of issued green energy certificates.

The possible applications of blockchain technology for use cases in the energy domain are also further explored in a joint FFG research project from the Center for Secure Energy Informatics together with Salzburg AG, Salzburg Netz GmbH and Verbund AG.

Application of blockchain technology

Salzburg industrialists, politicians and researchers met at the Industry Day of the Salzburg Chamber of Commerce and discussed how to strengthen Salzburg as a digital location.

Dominik Engel, expert for safe energy systems and research director of the CSE, gave a key-note presentation about the blockchain technology and the chances that it offers for digitalization. Being a software innovation, the new technology could have a significant impact on virtually all sectors of the economy.
“The blockchain is a tool for digitization, but not the solution to all problems,” explained Engel. In cooperation with Salzburg AG, Dominik Engel is currently testing a private blockchain for the exchange of energy at photovoltaic plants in Köstendorf.

From the perspective of the industry and politics, it is important to make Salzburg more visible as a research and IT location. The industry is already in the middle of the digital transformation, but needs to be better equipped in this regard. In particular, it will be important to win IT talents for Salzburg.


At this year’s NTMS conference in Paris, France, Fabian Knirsch presented the work of Andreas Unterweger, Fabian Knirsch, Dominik Engel and Christoph Leixnering about “Lessons Learned from Implementing a Privacy-Preserving Smart Contract in Ethereum”.

The authors present a real-world use case allowing customers in a diverse market to find optimum (cheap) energy tariffs. The privacy-preserving matching between customer forecasts and utility provider templates is implemented as a smart contract in the public Ethereum blockchain.

In this paper, we are the first to implement such a privacy-preserving protocol from the energy domain as a smart contract in Ethereum. We elaborate on and present our implementation as well as our practical findings, including more or less subtle traps and pitfalls.

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.

Smart Home Project

Victor, Erwan, Titouan, Nicolas and Jeroen are incoming students from Germany, France and Belgium (in picture with supervisor Norbert Egger).

They support research at the DSSE Domain Specific Systems Engineering group until June. In the project FREDOSAR, they develop a smart home app that can transfer confidential data from the web app to the smart home system.

We are very grateful for their help!

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.