Editorial - VGB PowerTech Journal 12/2020

Topic: Cyber security

Digitisation is closely linked to the transformation of the energy industry and energy generation. It is assigned a key role in the transformation of today’s energy supply. Among other things, digitisation should not only make processes, systems and plants in the energy industry more reliable, secure and efficient, it should also provide the basis for a closer “interconnection” of all systems in the energy system. This means that it is no longer just a matter of ensuring a secure supply through the continuous generation or provision of electricity in line with demand, but of regulating an optimum of generation, storage and demand as a complex task. The goals here are technical as well as economic and ecological efficiency of a low-emission energy system.

However, digitisation is also associated with the additional challenge of ensuring and implementing it safely. Digitisation also means networking or connection to networks, ultimately, because it is reliable and available, the well-known and existing Internet. At the same time, some people are not aware that “connection” (physically by cable) or “wireless logging on to a network” means that the device not only has global access, but can also can be seen or reached from any point in the world vice versa. There is also no difference between a powerful mainframe, notebook, smartphone, an entire plant control system or “just” a programmable logic controller (PLC); every IP address and the software and hardware behind it are part of the system. Protection is therefore a comprehensive issue. The success of digitisation will also depend on whether people trust digitisation. And trust in digitisation will ultimately also depend on how people deal with the issue of security.

As part of a country’s critical infrastructure, the energy sector is considered to be particularly worthy of protection. It is therefore subject to strict legal requirements in Germany, taking into account EU specifications, because a failure or impairment of the energy supply would have an enormous impact on the economy, the state and society.

As already mentioned here, all topics of digitisation are in the focus of VGB PowerTech and its member companies – because it is a central element of the design of the future energy supply and an important driver for technological developments and plant optimisation. VGB and its member companies see themselves as pacemakers in digitisation and its secure design and implementation. All participants take IT security very seriously and act preventively and proactively accordingly. Important topics of IT security were recently discussed at the “2nd Cyber-Security Day Energy”. The series of events is dedicated to this issue with a holistic approach and will prepare and support in several events to make the operation of a secure IT/OT landscape even more secure and thus react in advance to dangers of cyber attacks.

Following on from the topic of security, the “2nd digi-Tag will highlight and discuss ways of implementing digitisation. The program includes keywords such as Big Data, Robotics, VR/AR, Blockchain, intelligent sensors and actuators, AI, Predictive Maintenance, Virtual Power Plant, Mobility, Flexibility, Digital Twin, Information and Data Security and all this under the conditions of the upcoming generation change of employees.

For VGB, digitisation also means practical action and service for its member companies. One example is the database system KISSY (KraftwerksInformationSSYstem), which provides participating companies with availability data and operating parameters as a comprehensive tool for assessing the performance of their own plant in comparison with the data pool.

New in the VGB portfolio is WiPPeX (Wind Power Performance Data Exchange), an independent database for the comparison of wind turbine platforms. By comparing the data anonymised by VGB for a turbine type, benchmarks for the individual wind turbines, among others, can be generated individually by the participating companies and thus actions for optimisation can be derived.

VGB PowerTech is a reliable partner for its member companies in questions and tasks of digitisation; VGB also guarantees security and data security as a neutral platform.