I-SEM IT Challenges - Telling the Ducks from the Nukes 27 Jun 2016

It’s an unfortunate historical fact that ballistic early warning technology greatly lagged advances in the nuclear weaponry they were designed to detect, resulting in many close calls, false alarms and panicked near misses of global destruction, as flocks of ducks and geese and weather balloons were mistaken for imminent atomic Armageddon. 

As SEM market participants struggle to extract early indications of the impact of I-SEM on their existing IT systems, and to get a glimpse of the new systems they will need to build, buy or partner to achieve, SEMO is holding Technical Liaison Group (TLG) meetings in an effort to help the market prepare. The third TLG meeting was held recently in Dublin (Wed 25-May-2016), and a small flurry of initial indicative preliminary documentation was published on 3-June-2016, including a Functional Description of the Meter Data Provider systems and the new I-SEM Balancing Market Technical Specification. Already, some early shadows can already be detected on the radar systems of the wily.

EPEX Spot, the leading European spot power trading exchange, have been awarded the contract to provide the intraday and day ahead trading platforms for the I-SEM, with European Commodity Clearing (ECC) providing the central clearing function for these markets. EPEX’s java based client platforms are currently many versions beyond the outdated version on which the SEMO website relies – any participants wishing to host their intraday and day ahead trading on the same host as the existing SEMO website relies, in the absence of that being upgraded as part of I-SEM, may be frustrated. That problem becomes even greater when the variety of new reporting and market signal indicators required to be able to trade effectively in short term markets is taken into account, with their own system and platform dependencies – roll on the tragic explosion of the forest of screens your traders are going to require, not to mention the forest of underlying infrastructure to procure, and data feeds to assemble! 

And that’s not even taking into account the fact that intra-day platform has yet to be confirmed. An interim solution will be provided, with all the post-go-live headaches that will entail of undoing feeds and redoing them when the permanent solution (eventually) arrives. The news that for some interfaces there will be a move from 30 minute intervals to 5 minute intervals, and a corresponding move away from enumerated intervals to time based intervals for some new interfaces will also signal a significant change in requirements for participants. On the plus side , the existing “XML over SOAP” communications methodology is to remain the same.

EPEX client applications bring their own housekeeping – sensible measures to automatically remove outdated .jnlp files will need to be taken, and assuming EPEX runs true to their form in organising continental markets, API development will be required for capturing transactions, orders and other market signals. While there is an annual charge of up to several thousand Euro for our continental cousins for use of this API, SEMO have said there will be no charge to SEM market participants. IT managers from existing SEM participants may need to look to be able to resource the right development skills to avail of the rich functionality that is available in the EPEX API, including the ability to automate the booking of trades, gather market order information and so on. Alternatively, for participants where near instantaneous updates are not so critical, EPEX usually provide the means to perform dumps of traded positions, synchronously or asynchronously, which can then be uploaded to spreadsheets, books of record, databases or archives, as required.

The initial documentation that’s been made available, subject to ad hoc changes and planned iterations, makes for interesting bed time reading: participants familiar with the existing exhaustive (and exhausting) “MPUDs” will recognise many of the Balancing Market reports already. In some cases the opportunity is being taken to rationalise e.g. the combining of the Annual Load Forecast and Annual Aggregated Load Forecast reports into a single “Annual Load Forecast”; a brace of new reporting and submissions around Physical Notifications makes the move to time intervals from enumerated intervals quite apparent in the reporting specifications, and so on.

In IT “Command and Control” centres across the island, technical managers hunkered in bunkers are getting their first glimpse of the potential ordnance being lobbed from over the wall of the I-SEM market rules group. Thus far we’ve seen no bunker busters, but there’s certainly the potential for what looks like a duck on the horizon now to turn into a neutron bomb or two later! We’ll likely know a great deal more as the new Technical Specifications replacing the old “MPUD” documents are firmed up though participant feedback.

If you are interested in exploring how best to meet the new operational challenges the I-SEM will pose for your business, please contact the Client Services team for further information: