Trustworthy data exchange for distributed power grids

Energy producers and consumers come together on platforms where energy is traded. How can these trading portals be made even more secure and trustworthy for everyone involved? Researchers from the Institute for IT Security at the University of Lübeck are working on this question together with two local companies.

The production of renewable energies depends heavily on factors such as wind and weather. Flexible consumption systems, such as electric cars and heat pumps, and decentralized storage technologies are therefore playing an increasingly important role. These systems can adapt their energy consumption to the volatile generation of renewable energy, while storage systems can absorb surplus energy and release it again at times of increased demand. The more precisely production and consumption can be predicted and coordinated, the more efficient the solution is for both energy producers and consumers who use the storage systems.

With the increasing number of electric cars, heat pumps and home battery storage systems, as well as the ongoing energy transition, the energy industry is facing a paradigm shift. The charging capacity of all German electric cars already exceeds the capacity of all German pumped storage power plants. Secure and trustworthy communication is necessary so that these small-scale distributed end customer systems can contribute equally to system stability. The basis for the process is that data can be exchanged securely between producers, consumers, and storage facilities. Another important service provided by an electricity trading platform is a machine-learned prediction of future electricity consumption. As this information is largely personal and also provides companies with deep insights into production processes and capacity utilization, data protection is key to the success of the energy transition.

Especially when market participants are in competition with each other, the trustworthiness of the platforms to which they are supposed to entrust sensitive data is of enormous importance. This is why we are researching three different approaches in VeDS that can ensure the trustworthiness of data processing at different levels.

In the new project "Trustworthy data exchange for distributed power grids" (VeDS), the company EnergieDock GmbH and the University of Lübeck, with the help of software developer NAECO Blue, are pursuing the goal of researching security-relevant components in order to later expand the business opportunities for digital aggregation platforms. In this efficiency-boosting process, the flexible load procurement of small-scale end customer systems (e.g. e-mobility or heat pumps) or storage systems can be adapted to the volatile generation behavior of renewable energies, thereby significantly increasing the share of renewable energies in the electricity mix. The necessary forecasting models are created using AI algorithms.

Traditional machine-learned prediction models can provide deep insights into the personal data they have learned from. At VeDS, we are working on machine learning methods in which the prediction models do not reveal any information about individuals. This minimizes data protection risks. Creating trust in the area of data protection is intended to reduce a hurdle in the acquisition of new customers.

The VeDS project was launched on October 1, 2023 and will run for three years. The state of Schleswig-Holstein is funding the project with 500,000 euros, of which just under 100,000 euros will go to EnergieDock GmbH and just under 400,000 euros to the University of Lübeck.