Models for the energy revolution

Keeping an overview in the Smart Grid

The realization of the Smart Grid plays a fundamental role towards implementing the turnaround in energy revolution. However, since the electricity network is very complex, it is necessary to provide a working basis through abstracted models for all involved parties.

To fulfil this need, Christian Neureiter and colleagues of the Josef Ressel Center recently developed a tool for the model-based development and evaluation of Smart Grid architectures. Based on the popular modeling platform Enterprise Architect from Sparx Systems, it also succeeded in combining European and American standards and concepts for the Smart Grid.

In the meantime, not only energy generators from Austria and Germany, but also from Italy, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico rely on the innovative tool from Austria.


On tour with NoSE2017

Christian Neureiter is attending the Nordic Systems Engineering Tour 2017 and talks about his main field of expertise ‘A Domain Specific and Model Based Systems Engineering Approach for Smart Grid’ in Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg, and Warshaw.

You can find Christians presentation here: 2017-05-xx-NoSE2017
more updates are coming soon!

A report on the Event in Helsinki can be found here: Report on NoSE2017 Monday,  May15th

Many thanks to our partners for supporting Christians tour:
GfSE Gesellschaft für Systems Engineering e.V.
successfactory systems engineering gmbH

Blockchain technology: hype or universal remedy?

Blockchain Technology is currently resounded throughout the land. Although it was initially introduced to support the digital currency Bitcoin, this decentralized technology cannot only be used for the financial section, but also for other areas of business.

At the moment, as can often be observed for new promising technologies, block chain technology is hyped as a universal remedy for all domains. In order to find out for which applications blockchains can be used, compared to established, centralized technologies, Dominik Engel and Simon Kranzer organized a workshop „Silver Bullet Blockchain-Technologie?“ with domain experts for interested participants from science and industry.

In the practical workshop, it was shown how a simple Bitcoin-based blockchain can be set up. The participants could mine (i.e., create new coins) the digital currency on their own computers and exchange them with other participants.
As a reality check, use cases from the energy sector were analyzed and the possibilities and limitations of the blockchain technology for this sector were discussed.

In three expert talks, the topic blockchains was highlighted from different view points:

Fabian Knirsch, lecturer at ITS and scientist at the Josef Ressel Center for User-Centric Smart Grid Privacy, Security and Control discussed the combination of privacy-enhancing technologies and blockchain technology for applications in the smart grid. Furthermore, a new promising method was proposed. A special focus was on the possibility to replace a central trusted party by decentralized trust through blockchains.

Tobias Hoffmann from explained the foundations of the Bitcoin technology, i.e., mining, chaining of blocks, the required hardware as well as future trends such as smart contracts.

Erwin Smole, CSO and co-founder of Grid Singularity spoke about blockchain technology as an enabler for the energy sector. The successful Austrian startup uses Etherium as a platform for applications on the energy market.

DASPEOS – new research project has been started

The digitalization of the energy domain is a key factor for a successful energy system transformation. Intelligent energy systems – Smart Grids – will enable the large scale use of distributed, renewable energy resources. Moreover, Smart Grids will foster important applications such as electric mobility and Smart Home solutions.

An important topic is handling of data that is collected by ICT systems. Analysis of these data will revolutionize the energy sectors business processes and models. Since these processes need the participation of end-users, their acceptance and trust is an important prerequisite for which in turn the protection of end-users privacy is essential.

Therefore, researchers of the study courses ITS and AIS will investigate in the research project DASPEOS how data analytics can be combined with privacy enhancing technologies (PETs).
“The known benefits of digitalization are opposed to legal and societal data protection requirements, that need to be taken into account in the data collection process, e.g. in smart metering”, Dominik Engel explains. “Privacy enhancing technologies can fulfill these requirements, especially for smart metering.”
Together with Günther Eibl the data protection expert will support the researchers Fabian Knirsch and Sebastian Burkhart in the integration of PETs for energy data analyses and prototypical implementation for selected application domains.

In the data analytics part together with partner Fact AI KG Cornelia Ferner will search for ways to apply these concepts to machine learning algorithms. Particularly deep learning and representation learning will be considered as it is an area in which previous knowledge has been gathered through several research projects.
“Fascinating methods exist that distribute information in such a way, that the desired use of information and privacy protections will not interfere each other.” explains Stefan Wegenkittl. However, these methods are only rarely used up to date.

The industry partners Salzburg AG, Salzburg Wohnbau and Siemens Salzburg support the project with their expertise in the development of functional applications.
The results from the DASPEOS project will form the basis for the digital transformation of business processes in Salzburgs energy domain.

Processes in Smart Grids

Smart Grids will enable a direct communication between supplier and consumer. The supply networks will be controlled and managed centrally by digital technologies, which will balance supply and demand in the distribution system and will facilitate feeding-in of renewable energies. To ensure trouble-free operation of this future power supply, the system must be protected from unauthorized access.

If for instance an electricity consumer moves out of the flat, the power supply is switched off by remote shutdown via Smart Meter. The remote shutdown, however, bears an increased target for hackers, which may aim for extensive interruption of the power supply.

Potential hacker attacks can be sounded out by modeling such events as processes, including definition of procedure steps and sequences. For this purpose, Günther Eibl, Sebastian Burkhart and Cornelia Ferner from the Josef Ressel Center investigate the processes of Smart Grid within the research project PROMISE.
In “Exploration of the Potential of Process Mining for Intrusion detection in Smart Energy Grids” the team built a process model, modeled an attack tree and evaluated the detectability of any possible attack by common as well as new methods of process analysis.
The results of this research project were recently presented by Günther Eibl at the Third International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy (ICISSP 2017) in Porto, Portugal.

Concerning the example of energy remote shutdown the researchers found out that current analysis methods like conformance checking mainly recognize new, modified or repeatedly generated shutdown messages.

“The trick is that only knowledge of the process is required and the method of detection works automatically. It is consequently not necessary to generate a new method of detection for every new attack. The disadvantages are a substantially increased effort for data acquisition and a stronger process control”, Eibl complements the results.

Future research efforts at the Josef Ressel Center will not concentrate on process modeling only, but will additionally apply process mining to learn from event data.

  • [PDF] G. Eibl, C. Ferner, T. Hildebrandt, F. Stertz, S. Burkhart, S. Rinderle-Ma, and D. Engel, “Exploration of the Potential of Process Mining for Intrusion Detection in Smart Metering,” in 3rd International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy, 2017. to appear.
    author = {Eibl, G{\"{u}}nther and Ferner, Cornelia and Hildebrandt, Tobias and Stertz, Florian and Burkhart, Sebastian and Rinderle-Ma, Stefanie and Engel, Dominik},
    title = {Exploration of the Potential of Process Mining for Intrusion Detection in Smart Metering},
    booktitle = {3rd International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy},
    year = {2017},
    note = {to appear.},
    abstract = {Process mining is a set of data mining techniques that learn and analyze processes based on event logs. While process mining has recently been proposed for intrusion detection in business processes, it has never been applied to smart metering processes. The goal of this paper is to explore the potential of process mining for the detection of intrusions into smart metering systems. As a case study the remote shutdown process has been modeled and a threat analysis was conducted leading to an extensive attack tree. It is shown that currently proposed process mining techniques based on conformance checking do not suffice to find all attacks of the attack tree; an inclusion of additional perspectives is necessary. Consequences for the design of a realistic testing environment based on simulations are discussed.},
    keywords = {IDS,Intrusion Detection,Process Mining,Smart Grids,Smart Metering,process mining,security},
    pdf = {},

Big Data in Smart Grids

Andreas Unterweger presented latest research results of the Josef Ressel Centre at the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Big Data.

Andreas Unterweger and colleagues of the Josef Ressel Centers’ Privacy and Security division develop methods for data protection and data security for the future operation of Smart Grids.
One major point of interest is the data size of the power customers Smart Meter data. The data size depends on its resolution and therefore impacts the transmission performance of Smart Grids.

Andreas Unterweger and Dominik Engel evaluated the compressibility of Smart Grid data depending on its resolution. In their paper “Lossless Compression of High Frequency Voltage and Current Data in Smart Grids” Unterweger and Engel pay special attention to high resolution data.

Andreas Unterweger recently presented the outcome of this paper on the IEEE International Conference on Big Data in Washington. In his talk Unterweger showed that high resolution data has the same compression performance as low resolution data. This surprising result shows that Smart Grids do not need as much transmission capacity as expected.

  • [PDF] [DOI] A. Unterweger and D. Engel, “Lossless Compression of High-Frequency Voltage and Current Data in Smart Grids,” in Proceedings of the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Big Data, 2016, pp. 3131-3139.
    author = {Unterweger, Andreas and Engel, Dominik},
    title = {{Lossless Compression of High-Frequency Voltage and Current Data in Smart Grids}},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Big Data},
    year = {2016},
    pages = {3131--3139},
    publisher = {IEEE},
    doi = {10.1109/BigData.2016.7840968},
    pdf = {},

Sharing knowledge

JRC researcher discussed new privacy and security perspectives with visiting researcher Sanaz Taheri Boshrooyeh

Social networks like Facebook, YouTube or Instagram have become parts of our daily lives. We share private media such as videos and photos with friends via them. However, unfortunately not only friends like our private media. Companies pay significant amounts of money to use these private data for marketing purposes and hackers do like to create fake profiles of us for dubios purposes.

Sanaz Taheri Boshrooyeh , a 26 years old PhD student from Koḉ University in Instanbul, is searching for more privacy and security in social networks.
Our research center was pleased to welcome Ms Boshrooyeh via a knowledge exchange programme (Short-Term Scientific Mission). She also held a special guest lecture about “preservation of privacy in social media advertising”.

Our researchers and Sanaz Taheri Boshrooyeh are looking forward to further scientific exchange and synergies. “We are already working on a joint research for security in Smart Grid protocols. Therefore Sanaz’s expertise is very valuable for getting new perspectives”, explaines researcher Andreas Unterweger, who is member of the EU COST Action IC 1206 management committee and organizer of Ms Boshrooyehs visit.

Best Paper Award at IEEE SoSE 2016

_01_9748Our paper on “A Standards-based Approach for Domain Specific Modelling of Smart Grid System Architectures” has won the best paper award at the IEEE Int. Conf. on System of Systems Engineering (SoSE) 2016!

Developing the Smart Grid as complex, interdisciplinary System-of-Systems has proven to be a challenging task. Maintaining the strict dependability requirements for this critical infrastructure requires sophisticated engineering techniques. A key concept in this field is denoted as “Systems Engineering” which aims at enabling a holistic and interdisciplinary engineering approach. One of the key aspects hereby is the utilization of models for enabling different viewpoints according to individual stakeholder needs. The presented approach describes a practical implementation of this concept by delivering a Domain Specific Modelling Language (DSL) for Smart Grid systems. This language is derived on basis of the European Smart Grid Architecture Model (SGAM) as common concept for describing Smart Grid systems. Besides the implementation of this modelling language, its applicability has been demonstrated by modelling the NIST Logical Reference Model (NIST LRM) as reference example. In addition to the plain demonstration of the applicability, this approach also outlines how to combine the European SGAM as architecture framework with the NIST LRM as reference solution.

  • [PDF] [DOI] C. Neureiter, M. Uslar, D. Engel, and G. Lastro, “A Standards-based Approach for Domain Specific Modelling of Smart Grid System Architectures,” in Proceedings of International Conference on System of Systems Engineering (SoSE) 2016, Kongsberg, Norway, 2016, pp. 1-6. Best Paper Award.
    author = {Christian Neureiter and Mathias Uslar and Dominik Engel and Goran Lastro},
    title = {A Standards-based Approach for Domain Specific Modelling of Smart Grid System Architectures},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of International Conference on System of Systems Engineering (SoSE) 2016},
    year = {2016},
    pages = {1--6},
    address = {Kongsberg, Norway},
    month = jun,
    note = {Best Paper Award.},
    doi = {10.1109/SYSOSE.2016.7542888},
    pdf = {},