In handling and utilizing private energy data there is always a trade-oﬀ between utility and privacy which needs to be considered carefully. Current research concerning energy data mainly focuses on the notion of ‘diﬀerential privacy’ for release mechanisms, which guarantees for every participant, that whether his data is included in a database or not does not inﬂuence the releases signiﬁcantly. Although this is a very strong and desirable guarantee, it might not be applicable to all energy related cases. Firstly diﬀerential privacy seems to be too strong to admit certain utilities, like applications requiring that no noise is added to speciﬁc releases, as would be the case for billing. Secondly it was shown that diﬀerential privacy methods require the underlying data to be statistically independent, which can not always be expected in energy related scenarios. My research focuses not only on diﬀerential privacy but also other possible notions of privacy and their respective applicability to private energy data.
In order to ﬁnd suitable notions of privacy and develop privacy preserving methods that translate well from theory to practice, the requirements of the existing legal framework need to be met and the surrounding technical system and the privacy implications of its possibilities and restrictions need to be understood. Both the legal and the engineering related aspect show potential for collaborations with other graduates in the research training group.
Another pivotal question of future grid communication is the security aspect. In addition to preventing things such as fraud or attacks on the grid, security protocols also play a vital role in preserving data privacy of the enduser. On this topic I am able to closely work with other researchers at my PI’s chair, who aim to develop cryptographic components for future energy grids, that can easily be combined to assemble a complete system of secure communication ﬁtting diﬀerent scenarios. Possible use cases we look at are vehicle to grid communication or the use of smart home appliances, both combining diﬀerent security, privacy and utility requirements.