May 16, 2014

Review of the third ETIA Talk on “Smart Grids”

The festsaal of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna was filled once again for the third and final ETIA Talks event for this academic year that took place on 24th April 2014. ETIA Talks, an annual discussion panel series, aims to explore issues of relevance in the fields of energy, environment, related technologies and how these are interwoven with society, politics, law, economics and international relations. The third panel discussion addressed the topic of smart grids and whether they are the future of electricity supply.

A lively exchange with the audience took place with a panel consisting of Dr. Gerald Vones (Head of Energy technology & Innovation at the Austrian Ministry of Science, Research and Economy), DI Thomas Bleier, (Head of ICT Security at AIT Austrian Institute of Technology – Safety & Security Department), DI Andreas Lugmaier (Technology Platform Smart Grids), Dr. Nadejda Komendantova- Amann (Research Scholar Risk Policy and Vulnerability at IIASA), and was moderated by DI (FH) Jakob Zirm (Energy Expert from the Austrian newspaper “Die Presse”). The discussion started by outlining what smart grids are, detailing their uses and benefits, then moved on to the security aspect of smart grids and further, to whether the obstacles for implementation of smart grids face are of a technological, economical, political, or social nature? The talk gave a lot of new input and left it open to each one to decide for himself/herself whether smart grids are indeed an inevitability in the future of
electricity supply.

The discussion was polemical and informative with diverse and interesting view points posed by the panel as well as the audience members. The evening was followed up by more conversation over drinks and a delicious buffet. The event was successful in raising awareness of the topic and bringing together a range of viewpoints from many different perspectives - which is one of the main goals of ETIA Talks. Professionals, politicians, as well as students enjoyed the lively discussions and open atmosphere between the various disciplines that also shapes the study program of the Master of Science in Environmental Technologies and International Affairs (ETIA) that many of the organizing students pursue.

The conversation connecting people and ideas across platforms and sectors is far from over, in-fact it has only just begun and to further that discussion, ETIA Talks will be back with more interesting topics in September 2014. To learn more and keep up-to-date with upcoming events please visit

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