“A cross-sectoral view of the energy system transition”

Sensor data management, data analysis, data protection: future challenges require interdisciplinary knowledge and skills

Energy, Environmental and Security Systems – that seems like a broad spectrum. Where is the common ground? 

Peter Bretschneider: The sectors share many concerns, not least the energy transition. By 2050, Germany intends to cut its CO2  emissions by 80 percent compared with the 1990 baseline. This goal cannot be achieved simply by shutting down coalfired power plants and replacing them with wind or solar energy. Until now, the energy industry has provided the lion’s share of CO2  reductions. In the future, the production, transportation and building sectors will have to do more. That’s why we need to take a cross-sectoral view of the energy transition – something our business unit is eminently equipped to do.

Can you quote an example?

Bretschneider: In the Bauhaus.MobilityLab Erfurt research project we are developing an innovative IT ecosystem that combines smart mobility, logistics and energy solutions at a local urban level. It was one of the winning projects in the AI Innovation Competition of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), out of 135 entries. Solutions like this involve many of the skills that our business unit can provide, starting with IoT sensor technology, data management and user interfaces and extending to issues such as artificial intelligence and IT security. For instance, we can maNe use of the Fraunhofer Open Source SensorThings API Server (FROST®) for sensor data management, and our established EMS-EDM 3RO3+ET® solution for energy data management, energy forecasts and energy usage optimization. Smart ICT solutions will become increasingly important in the future. Already today, it would be impossible to assure the supply of electricity without modern grid operation and control systems. Innovative ICT solutions will also enable the emergence of new business models for decentralized energy services such as smart charging stations for electric vehicles and neighbourhood-related power generation. 


These solutions involve collecting large quantities of data – something that many companies and private individuals feel uncomfortable about.

Bretschneider: That’s true. Data must be protected, but we also need this information in order to perform our work. We use electricity consumption data to predict grid loading, analyze energy efficiency, and plan how to distribute energy as Ġexibly as possible An even more sensitive issue is the exploitation of video data, such as that recorded by security cameras. That is why our institute takes great care to ensure that the applications we develop comply with data protection, IT security, and data privacy regulations. As well as cooperating with the Fraunhofer-wide Cybersecurity Lab, we have also set up a dedicated research group to deal with data protection and its enforcement by means of privacy-by-design approaches.


Prof. Bretschneider is spokesperson of the business unit Energy, Environmental and Security Systems and director of Fraunhofer IOSB-AST.

Projects from the mentioned areas


Energy, environmental and security systems

Learn more about the fields of application and technologies of our business unit Energy, Environmental and Security Systems.