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Atrias and MIG6.0: Towards a new energy market model in Belgium

The Belgian energy market is about to evolve remarkably in 2018. The creation of a new federal clearing house and the implementation of the new energy market process model MIG6.0 will have a significant impact on the data exchange and the market processes structuring the electricity and gas market.

The new clearing house will simplify the data exchange between participants in the energy market while the new market model will incorporate the latest technologies, such as the availability of smart meters and decentralized production.

This article will elaborate on the key concepts of the new model and the different market impacts and opportunities it might bring to the participants in the energy market. 


The continuously evolving Belgian energy landscape

The liberalization of the Belgian energy market divided the market in plural energy suppliers and DSOs. The communication rules for each individual market process was put in place by regional regulators and described in detail in the MIG market processes. Today the European 20-20-20 targets require the member states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to increase the proportion of renewable energy and to promote energy efficiency [1]. As a result, new technologies and services such as smart meters, ESCOs [2], decentralized producers, virtual power plants and administrators of charging stations for electric cars will gain place.

The Belgian energy market is therefore in need of a more simplified, transparent and efficient market model to handle the increasing quantity of information and to support more frequent data exchange. Moreover, the energy market is constantly under pressure to decrease the operational costs of the Distribution Grid Operators (DGOs), which could be a direct benefit for grid users.

Towards a new energy market and data model

To tackle the challenges and evolutions mentioned above, the Belgian DGOs decided to take action. In 2011, Atrias was founded as a joint initiative by the Belgium’s largest distribution grid operators being Eandis, Infrax, Sibelga, Ores and Resa [3]. Atrias’ main goals are to facilitate the energy market through a structural approach, to promote standardization and to support market processes in an efficient manner. Atrias will develop a new market protocol, the so-called MIG6, and will also be in charge for the development of a clearing house application by the start of 2018 [4]

First Atrias will put a new market model (MIG6) into service, which will replace the previous model MIG 4.1. Its purpose is to simplify the existing market processes and to increase the efficiency and customer friendly services such as switching and prepayment. The documentation of the processes happens in close collaboration with the energy market stakeholders represented by the MIG6 comity. The strategic comity involves the DGOs, suppliers and regulators (for each region) who define the vision and strategy of the market evolutions and organise tactic and operational steering and working groups [6]. Even though Belgium (Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia) has provided a negative business case on the rollout of smart meters [5], MIG6 will include market processes supporting smart meters and the corresponding data exchange.

Secondly a federal, standardised communication platform will be put in place to simplify the exchange of data between the energy market players (suppliers, DGOs, TSOs, shippers and balance responsible parties). In Belgium, the DSOs are responsible for the installation, reading and maintenance of the network operations of the meters installed at SMEs and domestic premises connected to the distribution grid. Each individual DSO administers connection registers, access registry, handles metering data validation and makes the data available through its personal portal [7].

Currently, the validated data received form the metering is used for grid fee billing and is made available to the market (suppliers) through the VAN [8] web portal. This portal, on its turn, is used to bill the customer. The communication to the VAN portal is based on individual processes.  Additionally, the DSOs are also responsible for the forecast and for maintaining stability on their network. Therefore they are able to communicate from the DMS/OMS with different devices (enable, disable, regulate and read). All these rules have been specified in the UMIG documentation.

Every DGO uses its own access register with its own information and technology, which complicates the interactions even more. For example, if a customer wants to switch from supplier, the new supplier has to send the necessary data through the portal to the right DGO in order to modify the access registry (master data).

With the creation of a federal central access register, in combination with the MIG6 processes, the information exchange should become uniform. It should simplify the Belgian energy market and increase the benefits of scale. The individual DGOs will still hold the detailed metering data and communicate the necessary data to the data hub (Atrias) who will be responsible for the access register.

This approach lowers the barrier for new third party market players to request information from the DGO to be able to provide their services. To give an example, once an ESCO or an aggregator is recognised by the DGO, it can request information on its customers and this directly through the Market Facilitating Service [9]. With this data, the third party can provide his service (e.g. daily energy report).

The evolution toward the new central Clearing house model is illustrated by Figure 1.

Figure 1: Evolution towards a federal central clearing house (Atrias 2012)

The concept of a new market model MIG6.0

MIG6.0 a multi-layered model

The concept of the MIG6.0 model will be based on the information exchange between the GRID layer (including a physical and an operational sub-layer) and the MARKET layer (Commercial layer). The GRID layer will cover information on the technical installation of the customer while the MARKET layer will contain information on the supply contracts between the energy supplier and the customer. These two layers are interconnected with an intermediate communication interface, called the LIAISON layer [10] (Figure 2).

Figure 2: MIG6 layer architecture (Atrias)

To combine the two boundaries, a communication key has been defined based on a Service Delivery Point (SDP) [11] concept. The information on the physical installation will be managed through the Technical Master data by the DGO, while the information on the clients will be managed through the Business Master Data by the access responsible. Figure 3 represents the communication keys’ interactions between the different layers.

The use of this model will have several advantages:

  • Services will be defined by service components, which will have their own specific codes that can be standardized nationally.
  • Client centricity will be promoted as the clients will be able to switch services much quicker or will be able to add services on the head point assigned to them. Additional services in the context of Smart Grid will be possible once a smart meter is installed.
  • Flexibility will increase because any additional service can be added, without changing the communication key. 

Impacted market processes

Several market processes have been impacted by the new MIG6 market model. MIG6 documentation divides the business processes in the following components: structuremeasuresettlebill and operate, represented by Figure 4.

Figure 5 structures the market processes addressed by MIG6 and their main changes and adjustments compared to the present MIG 4.1. These changes will have to be incorporated in the internal processes of suppliers and DGOs to comply with the market processes. 

Figure 5: MIG6 market processes and main changes

Impact on market participants

The implementation of MIG6 market model and the roll-out of a central clearing house will impact several stakeholders such as customers, DGO’s and electricity and gas suppliers.

Impact on customers:

  • The cost savings, made by the economics of scale from a central ICT system are passed directly to the customers. Lower operational expenses at DSOs and Suppliers levels should eventually result in lower billing prices to the end consumer.
  • The switching will be made faster, by easing and centralising the process flows and by providing a bigger synergy between suppliers and DGOs.
  • Prepayment will be made available on meters, which will enable the replacement of budget meters.
  • Billing will be performed faster and more correctly.

Impact DGO:

  • Increase the Simplicity and robustness of the DGO’s IT systems.
  • Economics of scale using one central ICT model.
  • Smart metering will benefit the grid management and will facilitate the introduction of market mechanisms to increase the introduction of renewables in the grid with minimal capacity investments.

Impact suppliers:

  • The main impact on the suppliers will be the transformation of their internal processes, while ensuring the continuity of the MIG 4.1 processes until the go-live.
  • The internal procedures will be able to work with new processes, modules and labels. More data will be available for billing and accounting purposes and the CRM will need to include injection and offtake data flow.
  • The internal procedures will have to be adapted to take into account faster reconciliation interactions.
  • New message flow will become active (XML). The suppliers will have to be ready to read and send information in a specific standardized format.
  • The processes and procedures will differ from the latest MIG 4.1; therefore time and effort should be put in investing in knowledge management and translation in internal procedures.

Energy Data Management in Europe

The main reason for European countries to adopt new market processes and to restructure energy data management is the rollout of smart meters (up to 80% by 2020 as recommended by the EU Directive in countries where smart meters business cases have proven globally positive) [12]. This rollout will require new processes to handle the increasing amount and the frequency of data. The European member states will have to revaluate their data management processes if they want to maintain a well-functioning energy market.

In general we may distinguish three approaches used to facilitate energy data management [13]. A first approach is the decentralised data exchange or the point-to point (bilateral) approach. Here the DSOs will take the responsibility to gather metering information, provide and maintain the database, validate the information and share information with the stakeholders. The Belgian DSO (before Atrias) leans to this model. A second approach is the centralised approach through externalization of services. Hereby an external actor (different from DNO) will manage the dataflow in a centralised manner. The DCC in the UK is an example of such structure. The third model is the most applying for Belgium (Atrias) and the Netherlands (EDSN). The model will use the DSO to perform the information gathering, while a common service (e.g. database) will be centralised.  6 presents a view on Data Management Systems models in 5 European countries.

Figure 6: Energy Data Management in Europe

Closer view on the Netherlands

The Dutch energy market has known several evolutions based on the centralization of data exchange. In 2007 NEDU, an Atrias look-alike organization was established to develop and maintain the energy market model. On top, EDSN took place as a shared service organization for market facilitation (hub and register services). EDSN is 100% owned by DGOs and TSOs. NEDU documents the electricity and Gas market processes, while EDSN facilitates the market through a Central Data hub System.

The Dutch hub is fully migrating towards a Central Agency. The migration of the market facilitation components is happening step by step to mitigate the risk and to assure a complete business alignment between the energy market participants. Today, balancing, settlement and the metering point administration are fully in place. Measurement data registration, allocation and reconciliation will follow shortly.

Figure 7: Dutch phases to Energy Data Management

Leveraging the opportunities

Implementing the new MIG6 market model from a pure compliance point of view is one perspective. Another perspective would be to use the dramatic changes it involves to create opportunities for the market participants. Changes posed by the model will impact the market participants on their technical ICT level and their internal business processes. Compliance transformation can be used as a synergy trigger for structural and strategic transformation such as client- reorientation, optimization of operational activities and challenge the existing business model.

Some examples can be given on how the MIG 6.0 model can trigger additional activities and implementations:

  • Energy suppliers with grid fee engines, billing engines or more globally ERP’s that haven’t evolved for some years can better manage their CAPEX for different means into integrated IT programs. This will create value for both their internal and external processes.
  • Increase in granularity of data will make available both data analytics and monitoring opportunities. The service provider will be able to provide feedback and commercial advice on the energy usage to his customer.
  • Data monitoring can introduce new financial products in the energy market. For example, an ESCO can finance an isolation investment of your house on which you will repay the ESCO on savings made from your energy usage [14].
  • The concept of prepayment is included in the MIG6 model. Additional commercial opportunities in that direction can be defined. By activating prepayment as a general payment mechanism, the user could have a clearer overview on his usage. Once the usage limit is passed, a message will be sent by an email or a SMS to notify the user to replete the budget.
  • Increase in local production will eventually require additional supportive services. These can be the technical installation of decentralised production units and maintenance services, forecasting and balancing group management and financing of decentralised project investments. At the end, new products can be included in the service portfolio through services bundling.

Privacy and data security

Last but not least, privacy and data security are important topics which should be taken into account when centralising and sharing data from clients with market participant. Today the DGO’s are responsible for the collection and the ownership of the metering data. They use this data to assure a smooth functioning of the market and to communicate data to the suppliers, a.o. for billing purposes.  Not only will the rollout of smart meters (limited in Belgium) increase the data quantity and granularity of the customers, in the long term it will also be used to provide new services (suppliers, and third parties). To ensure correctly usage of their data, the data sharing should be transparent and clear. At the end, the customer should be able to keep the control and the ability to decide on the level of information he wants to share. New legislations have to be made, describing the specific purpose and authorisation of the data use and how Atrias will assure that the privacy and security is well maintained.


This article highlights the impacts of the creation of a central clearing house and the implementation of a new market process model in the Belgian energy market in 2018. The changes will add new features to the market process to support the future market evaluations and to simplify the processes used today. Belgian energy market participants should start on time with the impact analysis and moreover they should also seize additional opportunities linked to those changes into their transformation planning. 


[1]           European Commission, 2020 climate and energy package

[2]           ESCO: An ESCO is a company that offers energy services which may include implementing energy-efficiency projects (and also renewable energy projects) and in many case on a turn-key basis

[3]           VREG, introduction to atria

[4]           Eandis, investor presentation, April 2015

[5]           European Parliament, Briefing September 2015, Smart electricity grids and meters in the EU Member States

[6]           Atrias, Stand van zaken, September 2012. 

[7]           CEER Benchmarking Report on Meter Data Management Case Studies, April 2012. 

[8]           Value Added Network

[9]         ATRIAS, Publications on MIG6 market processes

[11]         SDP: Service Delivery Point: A Service Delivery Point is a logical entity that identifies the installation and the product that is applied. A Service Delivery Point is the smallest controllable unit for which a contract can be signed and to which an access holder is attached. The Service Delivery Point will be identified in a unique manner by the identification of the head point and the service component: ATRIAS

[12]         Energy - European Commission (

[13]         CEER Benchmarking Report on Meter Data Management Case Studies, April 2012

[14]         Esco financing model