(Frankfurt a. M., 07.02.2024) In a networked world, power supply and communication technologies are becoming increasingly interdependent. The smart metering system is used to control electricity consumption in households, digital twins are helping to expand the electricity grids and most of the challenges of the energy transition can only be overcome with the help of digitalization. Almost permanently available electricity and communication grids are indispensable for Germany as a business location and will become even more important in the coming years. But how do we deal with the increasing interdependencies? Digitalization depends on stable communication connections, which in turn depend on a stable power supply.
Normal operation and disasters: Typical operating scenarios are examined
An interdisciplinary group of experts from VDE ETG and VDE ITG has therefore investigated the question of how resilient our electricity and communication grids are, especially as exceptional cases such as extreme weather events and cyber attacks have increased and must be taken into account. This VDE impulse paper is based on current and expected technical developments in electricity and communication networks and analyzes typical operating scenarios in normal operation and in the event of disasters. The experts assess the stability of the grids and outline initial solutions in the event of exceptional circumstances. In conclusion, the VDE recommends taking action in four dimensions:
1. Raising awareness of the importance of resilience for electricity and communication grids
Our electricity and communication grids and their reliable operation must become more of a social focus, as they are the basis for all other infrastructures. Although resilience is associated with additional costs, it pays off economically because outages and damage can be avoided.
2. Thinking and acting across sectors and industries
In a similar way to how different energy grids are already being considered in the context of sector coupling, electricity grids and public communication services must also be considered together systemically. Thinking and acting across sectors requires the relevant knowledge and skills of the experts involved at operators, manufacturers and authorities, as well as appropriate training and further education. This must be coordinated.
3. Considering the possibility of disasters
Against the backdrop of possible exceptional cases, for example as a result of climate change or other events, more measures must be taken to ensure the resilience of our electricity and communication networks in an appropriate and graduated manner with regard to technical developments and the risks to be expected in the future.
4. Overall systemic planning and consistent implementation of measures
As a result of a systemic approach, possible measures should be assessed in terms of their effectiveness, urgency and technical and economic feasibility, prioritized and then planned and implemented.
The results and recommendations of the experts are aimed at specialists in industry, authorities and politics in order to contribute to an understanding of the cross-sectoral interrelationships and thus to the resilience of our future electricity and communication grids in normal operation and in the event of disruptions.