In this case study we describe the control rooms and systems employed in the trading and brokerage of energy.* We describe a brief history of the growth of trading and discuss the roles of trading in current-day commerce. We use a contemporary case study to exemplify the trading of energy and associated environmental issues. Using this background we discuss how control room design and management contribute to an amenable workplace environment in which traders can work. In our conclusions we offer a number of proposals for control room design and management.
Our case study example is Vattenfall, a Swedish energy generating and trading company. Vattenfall (the name means waterfall) traces its historical roots back to 1899 when the Swedish Parliament passed legislation to use water rights for industrial purposes and set up an organisation called the Waterfall Committee to manage this natural resource. Nowadays, energy trading is a key feature of Vattenfall’s business model and is a fundamental part of the company’s value chain. For several decades, Vattenfall’s energy production and physical flows have been controlled and monitored in the company’s national, regional, and local control rooms. Separately, other types of the company’s control rooms monitor financial and informational data flows. Together these control rooms monitor the diverse information needed for the business processes and help optimise energy supply and energy demand. However, the scope of financial trading is much wider than, and independent of, the production and distribution of energy. This form of commodity trading exemplifies a business environment that depends heavily on highly competent financial traders processing diverse information in rapidly changing real-time scenarios. The traders rely on accurate presentation of salient data in order to understand evolving market movements.