Two trends with regards to the risk of electricity supply failures

Two trends with regards to the risk of electricity supply failures

In recent communications of the European Commission, it is clear that one of the focus points in the near future will be energy security or more specific: security of supply. We all take our uninterrupted, constantly on-demand supply of energy for granted so easily, but sometimes forget the underlying infrastructure that we need to keep the lights on. That infrastructure is a vast, tightly coupled, and immensely complex system of energy production, transmission, distribution, and balancing.

As with all complex systems, complex means hard to change components and in need of strict management. With the ongoing build of heavy interconnections between member states of the EU, we see two trends with regards to the risk of electricity supply failures:

  • Having larger import capacities means being more resistant to sudden peak consumption that surpasses the current production capabilities and more tolerant to failure of our own production facilities.
  • Being interconnected to other systems that are not under the state’s control causes exposure to larger risk due to the greater scope of production facilities.

Following these changes, we also have to change our threat landscape with regards to cybersecurity. Where we had to worry about how much we can produce and how much we need, now we also have to worry about how much we rely on external power lines coming from different neighboring countries and our production. Relying on other member states means considering the risk of that production capacity suddenly being unavailable but also less control over how that production capacity is managed and protected.

With the NIS directive and law, we focus on the large-scale producers throughout the European Union, which have a potential impact on a large set of people (up to 1 million people). The NIS directive aims to push OES towards the ISO 27000 standards, to ensure adequate information security management. With this push to ISO 27000, a link is formed between cybersecurity, risk management, and indirectly the energy security of our society.

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