Virtimo AG celebrates the successful start of AS4 market communication according to BSI specifications in the electricity sector.

Thanks to the connection to the Virtimo Communication Service [VICOS], all clients of Virtimo who are active in the electricity sector can now handle their market communication in an AS4-compliant manner in accordance with the specifications of the German Federal Office for Information Security [BSI]. Communication via the AS4 protocol is already possible with more than 90% of market partners. This is well above the market average of 50%, which the German Association of Energy and Water Industries [BDEW] estimates has successfully completed the changeover.

On VICOS, this results in a high five-digit number of active connections and several hundred thousand messages per day. Only a few percent of market partner connections remain within which communication via AS4 is not yet possible, as the counterpart has not yet fully set the course for this. There have been many months of preparation, which have shown the industry that the changeover is quite complex and therefore requires a tried and tested solution. After all, the specifications are not simply new requirements for the software used, but a complete replacement of the technologies, service processes and operating environments.

With VICOS, Virtimo enables its clients to implement BSI AS4 with minimal effort. The platform has a high degree of automation across the entire lifecycle – from importing market partners to automated certificate management and automated switching. Simple integration with existing systems via various channels makes it possible to connect new clients extremely quickly.

“The entire process went absolutely smoothly. We were able to go live a few months in advance, when there were still very few certificates on the market and communication via the AS4 protocol was only possible with a few other market partners. The biggest challenge for us was the application process for the certificates, which have to be applied for separately for each market role. Virtimo enabled us to quickly connect to the system as well as a stress-free onboarding of the market partners, and VICOS also ensured stability and security at all times, because even during the transition phase, the two-way communication via e-mail and AS4 worked without any problems,” explains Andreas Probst, Head of IT at Allgäuer Überlandwerk GmbH.

With decision BK6-21-282 of 31.03.2022, the Federal Network Agency [BNetzA] adopted the realignment of market communication for the electricity sector at the instigation of the BSI. The areas of schedule management and redispatch, for which later deadlines have been decided or are expected, are excluded for the time being. The current procedures and regulations for the use of mail and AS2 are no longer valid. Instead, the introduction of the AS4 communication protocol using new certificates from the smart meter PKI is mandatory.

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Linda Naujokat

Virtimo AG