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MaKo – How the Players in the Unbundled German Energy Market Communicate

The digitalization of the German energy industry encompasses a wide range of business and practical areas. One key initiative is to ensure that data can flow smoothly and securely between all parties in the electricity and gas sectors. This involves standardised processes to make sure that business transactions are time and cost efficient. A significant part of the various standardisation initiatives involves defining and regulating how information is electronically sent and received between the many players in the power industry; known as market communication (MaKo, from the German Marktkommunikation). This encompasses a long list of processes, is complex to put into practice and involves myriad players. At the same time, we also need to clearly identify and define market roles and market players to enable them to communicate with each other.

This guide aims to demystify this complex world for you. Read on for a clear overview of the who, how and why of market communication in the German energy industry.


Market communication comes from the German Marktkommunikation, and is generally shortened to MaKo. It refers to the electronic interchange of files between players in the German energy market.

The processes that require this sharing of information have their roots in the liberalisation of the German energy market.

Over time, market players have adopted common processes, formats and transmission rules to enable automated, efficient communication with their counterparts.

The journey started in 2006, with the introduction of business processes to supply customers with electricity. These are known in German as GPKE. They were followed by similar processes for the gas market (shortened in German to GeLi), rules to balance gas and electricity supply (shortened in German to GABi Gas and MaBiS respectively) processes for measuring consumption (WiM) and Redispatch, which covers balancing mechanisms to ensure grid stability.

There are regular amendments to these processes, formats and transmission rules to meet the developing needs of the energy market.

Market communication is critical to running a functioning, open energy market and securing power supply. We have since celebrated over 15 years of market communication, all supported by the cross-association working group edi@energy.

Market roles and players

BDEW has modelled specific roles to ensure that market communication in the German energy market meets all relevant legal, regulatory and technical specifications. These roles include definitions for areas and objects and makes it easier to assign responsibility and know which process to follow.

The following sections look at the most important roles, regions and objects. Take a look at the BDEW1 user guide for more in-depth information (German language only).

1 Source: Anwendungshilfe „Rollenmodell für die Marktkommunikation im deutschen Energiemarkt“[User guide: Role model for market communication in the German energy market ] Arbeitsgrundlagen Marktkommunikation Version 2.0 from 25th March 2021, BDEW e. V., P10


Here are the most important roles:

Balancing Group Coordinator (in German Bilanzkreiskoordinator, shortened to BIKO)
  • is responsible for balancing group accounting in the electricity sector
  • ensures the balancing group managers pay and receive the correct balancing charges
Balancing Group Manager (in German Bilanzkreisverantwortlichen, shortened to BKV)
  • is responsible for balancing the energy and finances for the balancing groups in the electricity and gas sectors
Operations Officer (in German Einsatzverantwortlichen, shortened to EIV)
  • is responsible for deploying resources
Supplier (in German Lieferant, shortened to LF)
  • is responsible for the supply and consumption of energy from market locations (cf. objects)
Market Zone Manager (in German Marktgebietsverantwortlichen, shortened to MGV)
  • is responsible for balancing group accounting in the gas sector
  • operates virtual trading points
  • procures and controls energy reserves
Meter Operator (in German Messstellenbetreiber, shortened to MSB)
  • is responsible for installing and operating metering devices
  • is responsible for measuring consumption (including any necessary calculations) and sharing these values with market partners
Grid Operator (in German Netzbetreiber, shortened to NB)
  • is responsible for distributing power, whether electricity or gas
  • is responsible for grid security and stability (including any necessary construction and maintenance)
  • equates to the distribution network operator (DSO) in regional transmission and distribution
Transmission system operator (in German Übertragungsnetzbetreiber, shortened to ÜNB)
  • operates the transmission system – connects power reserves (cf. zones)
  • is responsible for system security
  • is responsible for developing and operating interregional transmission systems

Processes in market communication

A liberalised energy market requires coordinated, functioning processes for all parties to function properly. BNetzA, working closely with such groups as BDEW, DVGW, and the cross-association working group edi@energy, have defined the processes below. These groups continually amend these processes to meet new requirements and insights.

The processes are categorised by task and target group. The descriptions take into account the different requirements of the electricity and gas sectors. There are currently following processes:


  Abbreviation Fuel sector Description
Business process for supplying customers with electricity GPKE Electricity Processes allowing suppliers access to the grid and for supplying electricity to end customers.
Business process for switching gas supplier GeLi Gas Processes allowing suppliers access to the grid and for supplying gas to end customers.
Changes in metering WiM Electricity, gas Processes relate to operating meters, including changing operator or device and collecting meter data. Some processes are described in the GPKE and referred to by WiM.
Market regulations for balancing electricity supply MaBiS Electricity Processes related to balancing group.
Balancing Gas GaBi Gas Gas Processes related to balancing in the gas market.
Market process for electricity generator locations MPES Electricity Processes related to assigning generators to suppliers in direct marketing.
Guarantee of origin register HKNR Electricity Grid operator communication pertaining to the guarantee of origin register held at the Federal Environment Agency.
Redispatch 2.0 Redispatch 2.0 Electricity Processes and measures for securing grid stability. These include changes to scheduled power plant use to prevent energy bottlenecks.


In the main, communication is in an EDIFACT format. Some Redispatch 2.0 processes (adopted 2021) use XML. The XML structures follow ENTSO-E specifications.

edi@energy publishes the message types for the above processes, while data formats for the gas sector (GaBi Gas) are published by DVGW's wholly-owned subsidiary, DVGW Service & Consult GmbH.

GPKE stands for Geschäftsprozesse zur Kundenbelieferung mit Elektrizität (business processes for supplying electricity to customers) while GeLi Gas stands for Geschäftsprozesse Lieferantenwechsel Gas (business processes for switching gas supplier). Both describe the main processes and corresponding electronic data interchange for switching supplier.

The business processes for both the above involve:
  • Balancing Group Manager (BKV)
  • Supplier (LF)
  • Grid operator (NB)
  • Meter operator (MSB)
  • Transmission system operator (ÜNB)
They encompass the following tasks:
  • Terminating old contract (done by the new supplier on behalf of the customer)
  • Supply end date (either due to switching supplier or another reason for cutting supply)
  • Supply start date (either due to switching supplier or another reason for beginning supply, e.g. a new-build)
  • Substitute supply (so consumer still has an energy supply if new supplier is not known– as regulated by safety-net and substitute supply clause §38 of EnWG)
  • Reading meter and passing on consumption level
  • Grid usage billing (billing of grid usage fees to grid user)
  • Updating and sharing master data
  • Business data request (request for master data or readings from market or measuring stations)

Data formats

With the exception of the Redispatch 2.0 processes introduced in 2021, EDIFACT is the syntax used in market communication. Specifications are defined and published by edi@energy and include the following EDIFACT formats:

  • UTILMD (utilities master data message) – exchanging data on customers, contracts and meters
  • UTILTS (utilities time series message) – Transmitting formula for calculation
  • MSCONS (metered services consumption report message) – meter readings, energy quantities
  • ORDERS (purchase order message) – orders
  • ORDRSP (purchase order response message) - purchase order response
  • QUOTES – quotations
  • REQOTE (request for quote) – request quotation
  • INVOIC (invoice message) – invoices for grid and energy services
  • REMADV (remittance advice) – remittance advice
  • COMDIS (commercial dispute message) – helps clarify why an invoice has been rejected
  • PRICAT (price catalogue message) – price lists for balancing and metering services
  • IFTSTA (status of transport) – message tracking
  • INSRPT (inspection report) –used to communicate technical faults in a measuring station or known by an operator
  • APERAK (application error and acknowledgement message)
  • CONTRL – confirms syntax and successful sending

The gas sector uses further formats, as defined by DVGW Service & Consult GmbH. These include:

  • ALOCAT (based on ORDRSP) – Information on quantity taken
  • IMBNOT (based on ORDRSP) – Balance/imbalance message to balancing group coordinator or grid operator.
  • SLPASP (based on ORDCHG) – supplies parameters to calculate allocation
  • SSQNOT (based on ORDRSP) – Reporting excess/shortfall quantities
  • TSIMSG (based on UTILMD) – Declaration list for balancing group management in the gas sector


The technical side of how the market communicates is set out in Regelungen zum Übertragungsweg (communication method/protocol regulations) and Allgemeine Festlegungen (general provisions), both on the documents page of the edi@energy website. The document specifies the security and protection mechanisms required for electronic data exchange in regulated processes between market partners in the German energy industry.

Communication methods and/or protocols include AS2, e-mail via SMTP, SFTP and REST. AS2 and e-mail over SMTP are used in a number of energy market processes, whereas SFTP and REST are only permitted in Redispatch processes. Communication should always be encrypted and signed. With MaKo 2023, e-mail and AS2 communication will be replaced by AS4 communication in the electricity sector.

An important aspect of communication in the German power industry is having a single point of contact. This means that there is only one set of contact details per member ID. A grid operator in the electricity sector, for example, is only able to specify one e-mail address.

Format changes

The processes, formats and transmission protocols are not static. They are constantly being updated to reflect changing regulations and requirements. These changes and extensions come into effect at scheduled points throughout the year.

Changes apply equally to all market participants. To ensure that everyone has the same understanding of current regulations, processes and formats and that there are not several different versions in circulation, changes come into effect on fixed dates.

Unless otherwise specified, changes to format, processes or regulations only come into effect on either the 1st April or 1st October of a given year. All market participants must have switched to the new formats, processes etc. by the set deadline as the older versions immediately become invalid and may no longer be used.

The amendments are published by the BNetzA, or edi@energy, on behalf of BNetzA. There is always a consultation phase beforehand which lets participants have their say.

What is the difference between technical and content-based MaKo?

We differentiate between technical and content-based market communication

Content-based MaKo

Content-based MaKo refers to business processes as defined in e.g. the GPKE. These are processes that take place in various departments and are – generally – set out in an ERP system. These processes generate data that is passed on in an agreed format. You can find documents on cross-sector processes and the processes used in the electricity sector here, and for the gas sector here.

Technical MaKo

Technical MaKo refers to transmission protocols and converting data into the relevant formats (EDIFACT, XML). Rules governing technical MaKo can be found on the edi@energy website. Technical MaKo also includes compliance tests. These include the CONTRL syntax and service report. There are also checks to ensure parties are adhering to the rules in the user handbooks. The user handbooks contain regulations on the expected content and qualifiers for specific processes.

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