Accepted Abstract for CIRED 27th International Conference on Electricity Distribution              

Rome, 12-15 June 2023

An Interoperability-by-Design Approach For Designing Smart Grid Solutions

Jawad KAZMI  (
– Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT)

– Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT)

Marjolaine FARRÉ (
– TRIALOG, France

Technical Session: 4. Protection, Control & Automation



Smart Grid is the vision of modernizing the traditional power system with the extensive use of information and communication infrastructure. This infrastructure is used to implement sophisticated monitoring and control strategies to manage and control the diverse operational and economic systems in various management domains in the power system. The resulting system will be a large and complex system of systems with possibly millions of heterogeneous devices exchanging information to implement various optimization, monitoring, control, trading, etc. services. These systems would be talking in different languages, using different data models and architectures, and would be owned and built by different vendors and-or commercial/private entities. Therefore, making these systems work as an integrated system is one of the key challenges to realizing this vision. This challenge, however, can be tackled if the individual systems are designed to be interoperable.

Interoperability can be defined as the ability of a system to communicate in a meaningful way with other systems that may or may not be known in advance. Having interoperable systems has many advantages for every stakeholder and it also enables the possibility of seamless integrations when rolling out Smart Grid applications. For example, it enables customers to be vendor-agnostic when choosing devices and reduces operations and maintenance costs for grid operators by making the individual subsystems replaceable, etc. Thus, interoperability is at the heart of the digital transformation of Smart Grid, and any methodology that advocates this concept would help in developing Smart Grid solutions the right way.

This paper presents one such methodology – the AIT (Virtual Lab) VLab, which is based on the principle of interoperability-by-design. The principle advocates that interoperability must be considered from the very beginning of the solution design and should be followed through all the life-cycle phases. It works by defining a common view of the system first so that the functional objectives of the solution can be aligned with what needs to be implemented. This way it also helps bridge the knowledge and understanding gap between the requirement and implementation teams and helps achieve a higher level of interoperability. AIT VLab can generate API, SDKs, documentation, and solution prototypes in the form of virtual Docker-based environments that can then be used for development, testing, and integration.

This methodology is being used in the H2020 “Sustainable consumer engagement and demand response” (SENDER) project. The project is aiming at developing the next generation of energy service applications for demand response, home automation, convenience, and security. Some exemplary use cases from the project will be presented. The results from applying the methodology show enhance workflow, bridging the gap between the implementation and requirements, and improved communication to name a few.