Mr Laskowski, you have been representative of the user side of GAIA-X since January 2020 and have taken on the role of the ambassador of the domain-specific workgroup on energy for Germany on behalf of Martine Gouriet from EDF, a company on Energy European market, leading the Data Space Energy. At that time the workgroup was still in its infancy, what is the status now – ten months later?

When GAIA-X started, I was still alone in the energy domain, but now we have built up a workgroup with about 100 members. And more and more interested people are joining. Based on 15 use cases we have formulated domain-specific requirements for the architecture of GAIA-X. Since the energy sector is very broad and diverse, we have divided the workgroup into three subject areas.

What are these topics?

In a first field "Trusted Platform & Infrastructure" we handle topics of data sovereignty and security. At the same time, we deal with questions of representation of protected and resistant processes in an ecosystem like GAIA-X. The second field "Redispatch 2.0" is dedicated to network planning and calculation. Against the background of the energy turnaround, more and more energy from renewable sources is being fed into the grid. This leads to fluctuations and thus to bottlenecks and overloads of the energy grid. In the future, for example, weather forecasts could be used for prediction of effects on the grid. The third field deals with "neighbourhoods and neighbourhood solutions". It works on the idea of consuming energy across sectoral boundaries directly where it is generated. As a result, the energy network as we know it would be used differently in future.

About Prof. Dr. Michael Laskowski

Prof. Dr. Michael Laskowski is responsible for the area of network-related data solutions at E.ON in the regional utility Westenergie AG. The trained electrical engineer received his doctorate from the Ruhr University of Bochum and has been an honorary professor since 2006. In the GAIA-X project, he is involved as the ambassador of the energy domain and, together with his team, works out the requirements of future users from the energy sector, which are then incorporated directly into the technical development of GAIA-X.

In addition to the Energy Working Group, there are currently eight other domain-specific working groups. What are their objectives and what tasks do they have?

As a first step, each of the nine work groups focusses the user side of the respective industry and ensures that their requirements are considered during the technical development of GAIA-X. Furthermore, we want to gain as many participants on board as possible, in order to co-create the greatest added value for future users. Secondly, we want to establish links between all the domains to exploit synergy effects and define common requirements. Currently, our workgroup is preparing everything for the development of a domain-specific demonstrator. We have received very good suggestions from the members of our domain, so that we can start soon. However, before that, we will coordinate with the other domain-specific workgroups to agree on a common approach. Thus, because all the work, efforts and results of the various domain-specific workgroups will have to fit together again.

GAIA-X is not an end in itself.

All those involved in the GAIA-X project have committed themselves to working in a user-centred manner. What does that mean?

GAIA-X is not an end in itself. We pursue the goal of providing a comprehensive ecosystem for applications and users. As soon as interested parties have understood the added value of GAIA-X, they are ready and willing to participate and get actively involved. In other words, the user really must know the benefits – then they will want to use the data infrastructure system and its services. That's why the user perspective is already being given so much thought during development.

Can you give examples why GAIA-X is important for the energy domain and what added value the initiative can bring?

The energy sector is currently undergoing a massive transformation: the number of renewable energies is growing exponentially, and new services and business models are constantly being added. Against this background, it is very important to actively shape this change. At the same time, there is a need in the energy industry to use data more easily and better, as we have done in the past. Redispatch 2.0 is a good example of the fact that we need to collect a large amount of data and process it intelligently in order to control grids. GAIA-X provides the environment not only to bring this data together, but also to make use of analytical tools and applications of artificial intelligence.

In each domain, the project participants define specific examples of needs, the so-called use cases. These illustrate needs and identify potential that can be raised by GAIA-X. What use cases evolve in the energy domain?

Let's stay with the example of Redispatch 2.0, the aim of which is to manage network bottlenecks with foresight, based on forecasts, and to control the generation plants in such a way that they continue to feed into the grid but at the same time do not overload it. This example could also develop into a Redispatch 3.0 when we use artificial intelligence for this purpose. The large number of members in the energy domain also shows the need to develop solutions for a large number of energy-related and energy-economic issues.

The use cases are the starting point for defining technical and regulatory requirements for GAIA-X. Can you outline the essential requirements of the energy domain and how these could be considered in the development of GAIA-X?

If we stick to this example, the requirement for interoperability comes first. To collect and merge data from different sources, they must of course speak a common language and use same standards at the interfaces - even across national borders. Otherwise, we will end up in an ecosystem, but we will not be able to read and use the data because it is not compatible with GAIA-X interfaces. Just as important is that we ensure data cannot be manipulated. Energy data is very trustworthy, and there are guidelines on how it must be "packaged". If this does not apply, energy data could be intercepted and manipulated, for example at the interface to the grid feed-in, thus paralysing the entire energy grid.

In the end, everyone benefits from a growing number of users of GAIA-X.

When the infrastructure system GAIA-X exists: Who will be the first users from the energy sector?

I think it will be the fast companies that are going to benefit from GAIA-X – not necessarily the big ones. In other words, those who have already recognised the added value of GAIA-X for themselves. GAIA-X offers enormous added value, especially for small and medium-sized companies that may not have the resources to develop their own platforms and solutions themselves. In the end, however, they will all benefit from a growing number of users of GAIA-X, because this will simultaneously increase the range of services and applications offered.

To what extent is GAIA-X a driver of the digitalisation of the energy sector?

I believe it is rather the other way round: the demands of the market force companies to be leaner and generate new ideas. So, market requirements are driving digitisation forward. GAIA-X is a supporting and accelerating factor here.

In September, the 22 founding companies and institutions signed the founding documents for a future non-profit organisation based in Brussels, which coordinates GAIA-X as a kind of operating company. The founding members of the future GAIA-X AISBL have thus transformed the initiative into permanent structures. What do you expect from the AISBL?

Well, I think that it is extremely important that GAIA-X becomes even more international. We need an international exchange of data in order to meet the challenges in the energy sector. At the same time, internationalisation will lead to an increasing acceptance of the project. There should be no country solutions, because that paralyses GAIA-X.

In addition to internationalisation, what other important criteria do you consider making GAIA-X a success from an energy perspective?

In the energy sector we urgently need solutions. This means that a high speed of implementation is imperative. The development of GAIA-X must not take too long. We must be aware that the longer the development process of GAIA-X takes, the more likely it is that competitors will jump off the track. So, I expect the GAIA-X AISBL to have a strong lead and a high implementation speed.