Disruption of European satellite provider downs German wind turbines, raises concerns about a hacker attack.

March 2, 2022 in News by RBN Staff



Source: Handelsblatt.com (Original in German)


Massive disturbance of the satellite connection: Enercon reports almost 6000 affected wind turbines 

The disruption at a satellite provider raises concerns about a hacker attack. Plants with a total output of eleven gigawatts are affected. 

Düsseldorf, Berlin A massive disruption to the European satellite internet is restricting the operation of thousands of wind turbines in Central Europe. The large German wind turbine manufacturer Enercon confirmed this to the Handelsblatt on Monday.

The remote monitoring and control of 5,800 systems with a total output of eleven gigawatts is affected. It was still unclear on Monday afternoon whether systems from other providers were also affected.

Because the systems are part of the critical infrastructure, Enercon reported the incident to the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). The company said it was in close contact with the authorities. A BSI spokesman said on Monday afternoon that the authority was aware of the disruption and the resulting restricted maintenance of wind turbines. “However, due to the redundant communication options of the responsible network operators, no effects on the stability of the power grid are currently to be expected.” The company concerned is investigating the cause in close cooperation with the authorities.

Enercon emphasized that the systems are still in operation and that there is currently no danger. They would run in automatic mode until the problem was solved and could “basically regulate themselves independently”. However, remote access is no longer possible, which is why the turbine manufacturer from Aurich has to send its service personnel to check the individual systems in the event of a fault. The company is working “at full speed” to fix the problem.


A spokesman for the German Wind Energy Association also emphasized: “It is important to know that the wind turbines can also run without the Internet.”

War in Ukraine : Loss of contact with almost 6,000 wind turbines

The association announced that the problems with the systems were due to the failure of the broadband satellite KA-Sat. KA-Sat provides Europe and the Mediterranean region with satellite internet. This is attractive for operators of wind turbines because their turbines are often located in rural areas where there is no other way to get fast internet.

According to the German Wind Energy Association, only operators who control their systems using solutions from the provider Euroskypark are affected by the failure. The Saarbrücken-based company offers “connection services and solutions for industrial applications and security-critical infrastructures”. The company could not be reached for comment in the afternoon.

Cause of disturbed control of wind turbines unclear

The exact cause of the satellite disruption that occurred last Thursday morning is not yet known. However, the communications services failed almost at the same time as the Russian invasion of Ukraine began . Around 30,000 satellite terminals across Europe, which are used by different industries, are affected.

Experts see three possible causes of the problems: First, the connection could be disrupted by a cyber attack, a manager of a satellite company told the Handelsblatt. German security authorities have been warning of such attacks in connection with the Russia-Ukraine conflict for weeks. In this case, attackers would have penetrated the computer network of the satellite operators.

Hacker attack, technical error or destroyed ground station possible

Secondly, an electronic malfunction is also a possibility. The reason could be a classic technical defect – but also electronic warfare. The connection may be deliberately blocked, for example by a truck equipped with high-tech antennas.

The expert sees a third possibility in the fact that ground stations in Ukraine could have been destroyed in a rocket attack. Today’s satellites work somewhat like a mirror: the Internet signal is sent from the ground station to a large satellite in geostationary orbit, which then reflects the signal back down, for example to private Internet users and wind turbines. If the ground station is disrupted, no more data arrives at or from the users.

Crisis team due to disrupted satellite connection to wind turbines

The BSI has been assessing the current situation for several days with the second highest warning level “Orange” and has activated the National IT Crisis Response Center. Most recently, the authority warned on Friday of an “increased threat to Germany”.

More: After cyber attacks against Ukraine, Russia is apparently also being attacked