Reply from the European Commission to the Parliamentary questions on “Fostering the deployment of smart grids” by MEP Pilar Del Castillo

On November 2021, the Spanish Member of the European Parliament Ms Pilar Del Castillo from the EPP Group, submitted a list of questions to the European Commission concerning the undergoing policy around the deployment of smart grids in the EU.

The main points of the questions concerned the permeation of digital technologies in the energy sector, namely the support that access to radio spectrums can provide to the development of smart grids, an essential tool to foster the energy transition.

The questions received a written reply from the cabinet of Mr Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship & SMEs. The full text of the questions and official written reply can be read here.

The EUTC Board of Directors is grateful towards Ms del Castillo for supporting this necessary advocacy activity to allow the main European key players from the telecommunications sector to accelerate the works to achieve a digitalised and carbon-neutral Europe.

Per rule 138 of the European Parliament, the policymaking process of the European Union allows Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to submit questions for written answer to the European Commission – for which an official written reply must be provided within a period of six weeks. MEPs often engage with stakeholders from civil society in order to submit questions that address their needs.

The European Utilities Telecom Council and the European Energy Information Sharing and Analysis Centre sign Partnership Agreement

Brussels, Belgium – On 30 May 2022, the European Utilities Telecom Council (EUTC) and the European Energy Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (EE-ISAC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aiming to reinforce the cyber resilience of critical infrastructures in Europe.  and practices.

With this Agreement of Cooperation, EUTC and EE-ISAC demonstrate their commitment to exchanging information related to cyber threats, and reports of intrusion events, as well as sharing best practices for protecting sensitive information and identifying critical asset classes and methodologies.

EE-ISAC is the result of multidisciplinary cooperation reached in Europe by private operators, service providers, academia and (non-) governmental agencies, with the mission of strengthening resilience through information sharing within a community of over 30 members. Activities include sharing information on the evolution of the threat to energy infrastructures and sharing of best practices and innovative initiatives in the context of the protection of networks, industrial systems and operational technology.

“We strongly believe that this new connection represents a valuable opportunity to reinforce the cyber security network in Europe as a whole”

Massimo Rocca, Interim Chairman of EE-ISAC

EUTC is a non-profit association, which concentrates on 6 areas of expertise which range from Smart Grid, Telecom & Utilities, Digitalisation further to Cybersecurity. Within this field, they not only research and contribute to the latest trends, but also actively interact directly with the ever-changing energy grid field users. These include the vendor supply chain, the utility community itself, and the regulators at the national as well as EU level.

“ This is a key opportunity for developing joint approaches to the ever-evolving cyber security challenges which we all face. EUTC members operate systems classed as critical infrastructure and as such have the highest levels of physical and cyber security in place. However, as EU utilities work to decarbonise and digitalise the energy sector to meet the UN climate change objectives, the attack surface in their networks expands significantly. The interconnected nature of telecommunications and energy supply has never been more apparent and impacts every aspect of our daily lives – making resilience and security essential at every level.”

Julian Stafford, Secretary General of EUTC

The Partnership, therefore, offers the two organisations the opportunity to further strengthen their common interest in attaining further reliability and security of electric power systems. Together, EUTC and EE-ISAC allow sharing information between more than 40 stakeholder groups by therefore enhancing the organisations’ cyber security posture.

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About EE-ISAC
European Energy Information Sharing & Analysis Centre is an industry-driven, information sharing network of trust. Private utilities, solution providers and (semi)public institutions such as academia, governmental and non-profit organizations share valuable information on cyber security and cyber resilience in the European Energy industry.
For more information, please visit 
www.ee-isac.eu. For media inquiries, please contact contact@ee-isac.eu.

EUTC Spectrum Group Meeting on 12 May 2022 in Paris, France

The Radio Spectrum Policy Group meetings come in the framework of EUTC facilitating the debate over the necessity of harmonised radio spectrum allocation for utilities and critical infrastructure companies operating in Europe. EUTC’s work in the area of radio spectrum allocation policy includes contributing to the European Commission’s EU Radio Spectrum Policy Group and to the European Parliament’s Radio Spectrum Policy Plan.

On 11 and 12 May 2022 EUTC Members met for the first time after the pandemic for a Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) meeting in Paris, France. The meeting had over 20 attendees coming from within EUTC and external organisations as well, and was hosted at the EDF Research&Development premises in the Saclay area, located in southern Paris.

On the evening of 11 May, the Secretariat and Board of EUTC visited EUTC Member General Electric representatives in their Massy (Paris) premises, for a short informal meeting. In the evening, an opening dinner before the meeting took place, where all EUTC members attending the meeting were present.

On Thursday 12 May, the Radio Spectrum Policy Group meeting took place in the morning, hosted by EUTC member EDF at their Research&Development facility. Attendees listened to a presentation by Mr Adrian Grilli, Spectrum Group Manager of EUTC and discussed together their requirements for radio spectrum allocation. Mr Eric Fournier, Chairman of the Radio Spectrum Policy Group of the European Commission, presented the single situations in each of the EU countries concerning radio spectrum for utilities, given the different address each Member State gave to it. After lunch, EDF took meeting attendees for a tour of their research premises.

The EUTC would like to thank all participants for attending the meeting in person or online, and EDF for hosting it.

Member interview – EMR Integrated Solutions

EMR Integrated Solutions has joined EUTC in January 2022. We had a chat with Alan Feenman, Sales Director, to hear about their activities and how they see their participation in EUTC.

Can you provide a brief background to EMR’s activities and objectives?

With headquarters in Ireland and a project delivery arm in the UK, EMR Integrated Solutions is a specialist OT communications, SCADA and instrumentation solutions provider.  We design, deliver and support mission-critical core networks based on technologies such as DWDM, MPLS-TP and secure edge networks incorporating fibre, microwave, satellite and cellular mobile technologies.  Our clients include household names such as ESB, SSE, NPg, Western Power Distribution, Northern Ireland Electricity, and renewables companies such as Greencoat.  With over 40 years systems integration experience and 24/7 managed services, EMR helps utility customers to ensure that their communications networks can deliver the required operational data in a secure and timely manner. 

In what ways do EMR’s objectives align with the goals of EUTC and the rest of its members?

Our raison d’être is to help energy providers deliver a smarter, greener power grid for their customers. We take utility providers on a digital transformation journey, enabling the migration of legacy networks to secure IP-based communications systems, which provide the type of high-performance, data-driven intelligence required to promote greater energy efficiency across the grid.  More robust cyber security also plays a key role in our philosophy of building network architecture for next generation utility providers.

Alan Feenan, Sales Director with EMR Integrated Solutions

Why has EMR decided to join EUTC?

Our main objectives in joining EUTC centre are networking and knowledge sharing.  Like other EUTC members, we face common challenges such as spectrum allocation and cyber security.  These are burning issues for us and our clients, and through the EUTC we use the power of the collective to gather information and learn, and in turn share our real world experiences with the community at large.  As we are based on a small island on the periphery of Europe, being able to tap into that European experience through EUTC members is vital for us.

What is EMR’s vision on how utilities telecom can help foster a net zero carbon Europe?

EMR is committed to a net zero carbon Europe.  But these aren’t empty words.  It’s about leading by example and they must be backed by action.  That’s why we have taken concrete steps to ensure that as an organisation EMR will meet its target of net zero carbon footprint by 2030.  Practical actions such as replacing ageing vehicles in our fleet with hybrid and electric models, as well as insisting that our supply chain aligns itself to a net zero carbon future have already been taken. We are very encouraged by the increasing number of organisations across industry who insist on their suppliers sharing their net zero carbon approach to business.

The energy trilemma comes back to bite!

Suddenly, the much talked about ‘energy trilemma’ has been given renewed impetus.

Carbon emissions and climate change, highlighted by the COP26 Conference in November 2021 have now given additional focus on renewable energy as Europe rushes to replace Russian oil and gas.

The resulting eye-watering increases in energy costs for consumers and industry are leading to increased poverty in the hardest hit parts of our communities, together with rising inflation and challenges to European industries to remain competitive in global markets where other regions have access to cheaper energy supplies.

All the while, energy security is under the dual focus of loss of dispatchable and storable fossil fuels and high profile cyber attacks.  These include the collapse of the Vodafone network in Portugal after a hacking operation, disabling of thousands of modems though an attack on the management plane of the ViaSat network, and reports of the Israeli Pegasus Software being infiltrated into UK Government Electronic Devices to spy on high profile politicians.

Credits: React2020 Project

These events throw a spotlight on the need for utilities to have access to highly available and extremely secure operational telecoms networks to monitor and control their increasingly dynamic energy networks.  With intermittent renewable energy sources being connected at all levels of electricity transmission and distribution networks, often in remote locations, the challenge in managing the electricity networks on a second-by-second basis has never been more pressing.

EUTC Groups, Policy Papers and responses to consultations by public bodies seek to explain the complex technical requirements for these services in readily understandable terms, drawing attention to the urgency of the task.  Access to suitable spectrum for dedicated radio systems is vital in some instances, but a wealth of technology is needed, ideally using ecosystems aligned to international standards to ensure the lowest cost to consumers of delivering the services.  This also provides a large and consistent market for European Manufacturers as a springboard to address world-wide markets.

EUTC recognises that these challenges are too great for any individual organisation or association to resolve alone.  Collaboration is the right way to proceed.  This was well illustrated at a recent joint conference on Cybersecurity Standardisation with ENISA, CEN, CENELEC and ETSI which produced some excellent graphical illustrations of these challenges, one of which is reproduced below.

Credits: Maria Foulquie, 15 March 2022

EUTC at the UTCAL Summit 2022 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

From 29 March to 1st April 2022, the UTCAL Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event is organised by UTC Latin America (UTCAL) and is namely the biggest gathering of the utilities telecommunications sector of the region.

EUTC Secretary General Julian Stafford with fellow panellists at the UTCAL Summit 2022

The first in-person UTCAL Summit after the beginning of the pandemic took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the first weeks of Spring. EUTC was present at the event, represented by our Secretary General Julian Stafford. The 2022 edition gathered more than 600 participants coming from the utility telecommunications sector worldwide, including Government policy makers and regulators from both energy and telecommunications sectors.  114 speakers addressed a range of topics in plenary and four parallel streams in over 60 different sessions in Portuguese, Spanish and English with translation facilities provided

Julian Stafford presenting on 30 March 2022

Julian Stafford participated on a panel on 30 March titled “Telecommunications Technologies for the Modernization of Utilities“, discussing all the applications that different technologies may have in the development of smart grids in order to make them future proof. On 31st March, he also participated in a second panel, called “Technological Evolutions on LTE Networks“, during which LTE solutions for different frequencies were presented, together with Mr Gosta Kallner of the 450MHz Alliance and others.

The event provided important networking opportunities for all its attendees, and generated high-level debates on fundamental topics of the current moment, such as cybersecurity, Internet of Things and private networks.

Networking cocktails at the UTCAL Summit 2022

The UTCAL Summit is an occasion for EUTC to mark its presence abroad and outside of Europe, something that will help set the scene for further collaborations with UTCAL.

The importance of eSIM & RSP for utilities and telecommunications

Innovation in the field of SIM cards provides an excellent opportunity for efficiency yet at the same time a challenge if not standardised, especially for utilities and telecommunications! Deepen your understanding on the importance of eSIM and remote SIM provisioning (RSP) for European utilities and telecommunications. 

Save the date for EUTC’s latest webinar on January 12, 2022 and join us from 13 to 14:30 CET! The webinar will focus on two recent advances in SIM technology: embedded SIM (eSIM) and remote SIM provisioning (RSP), becoming more and more important as we march toward a world of increasingly connected people and devices with the Internet of things (IoT).

Join various presentations from a number of key players in the SIM card field, including Stedin, Enexis and Kore along with EUTC, the united voice for European utilities and telecommunications. 

The event is free of charge to all members of EUTC and European regulators. Non-members are welcome to register and can join at a fixed participation fee of 250 EUR (excluding VAT). It is an open meeting where quality experiences, realities and information will be exchanged in a transparent and trusted manner among peers.

EUTC General Assembly

EUTC truly believes in the potential of joining forces to foster energy efficiency, security and a net zero carbon future through developments in utility telecommunications in Europe. 

To celebrate, we are excited to announce the first virtual General Assembly on 9 December 2021 from 16.30 to 18.30 CET.

The assembly will be exclusively for members this year. On the agenda is  a recap of the past year, strategy for the coming year(s) and what this entails in terms of technical activities, advocacy and events.

Don’t miss this opportunity and join our General Assembly!

TCCA Critical Communications World 2021

Critical Communications World 2021 will unite mission-critical and business-critical end-users and manufacturers for the first time in two years.

Join Julian Stafford, EUTC’s Secretary General, in the Panel discussion “International perspectives on the mining, oil, utilities and transportation industry approach, from SCADA to IoT” on November 5 at 12pm CET. 

The utilities, mining, oil and transportation industries all have very specific requirements about their critical communications needs and strategies. This discussion will bring perspectives from around the world on what is needed for effective operations.

LTE | Connecting Futures

Brussels, September 2021

EUTC congratulates Members WPD (Virtual Access) and Nokia and Partner JRC on a new LTE project to develop learning on:

  • – Confirmation that LTE is a suitable solution for providing communications for the energy industry 
  • – Confirmation regarding using an Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) or Time Division Duplex (TDD) system 
  • – Confirmation on bandwidth requirements 
  • – Confirmation on types of data that can be passed over an LTE system 
  • – Confirmation on antenna solutions for different situations 
  • – Confirmation on training requirements and test equipment for staff

This project is the UK’s first multi-site, multi-vendor LTE trial designed to mimic on a small scale, and develop proposals for, the roll-out of a telecommunications network to support Active Management functionality. This is an important follow up to the a single vendor; single base station LTE evaluation trial at Portishead which provided data on the fundamental design and capabilities of LTE and illustrated how such a communications network might be integrated into WPD infrastructure. This showed that an LTE network is better equipped than a traditional narrow-band Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) network in the harsh environment [e.g. electrically noisy sites, RF interference, multipath etc.] to be found in the context of an energy network and that the likely data throughput would be as predicted.

The project comes to the end at the end of June. During the month of June , updates to firmware of all 15 Encore Customer Premises Equipment (CPE’s) to the latest release was carried out which provides additional security features as a result of PEN testing conducted in Sweden. 

See more here.

European Utilities Telecom Council (EUTC) Aisbl is a non-profit organization delivering education, collaboration, best practices and thought leadership in telecommunication technology to utilities, other critical infrastructure providers and regulators, ensuring efficient, secure, sustainable and affordable smart infrastructure solutions. Moreover, the EUTC is the trusted advisor, source and resource of information and knowledge for its members and relevant policy makers regarding telecommunication technologies required by utilities and other critical infrastructure providers.