Protecting the solar energy grid from cyberattacks

A potential driven by renewables promises sustainable vitality and a cleaner environment – but that doesn’t mean it is with out threats. Incorporating supplemental points of era these as solar farms can inadvertently introduce comfortable accessibility points for cyber hackers trying to get to exploit weaknesses in the nation’s energy grid.

That is why Jin Ye and WenZhan Song, professors in the University of Georgia College of Engineering, are functioning with a consortium of partners from the public and personal sectors to shore up the country’s energy grid’s defenses.

WenZhan Song with a substantial solar panel array in the background. Illustration by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA

Applying a $3.six million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Photo voltaic Energy Technologies Workplace, Ye and Song is part of a multilevel cyber defense job that aims to properly combine solar energy units into the grid. The University of Arkansas is the direct institution on the job while the University of Ga is the 2nd-most significant recipient of the funding.

Ye, an assistant professor, and Song, the Ga Electric power Mickey A. Brown Professor in Engineering, will develop improved cybersecurity units at two important junctures – the solar PV inverter which connects solar energy models to the grid, as properly as the broader process by itself. They intend to craft algorithms and use a machine learning-primarily based hybrid intrusion detection process to greater guard solar technologies against attacks. This two-level strategy to safeguarding the grid adds a layer of protection, while also firming up one particular of the additional vulnerable ports of attack, the social PV inverter by itself.

“For solar vitality, there is an amplified penetration of PV units into the market place, and the energy grid is expanding additional dependent on them,” Song claimed. “It is much less complicated to attack solar units, which are increasingly deployed everywhere you go, alternatively than attack a centralized energy generator, which is additional securely guarded as a important facility.”

The scientists want to produce a new framework for the inverters in which multiple protection capabilities, these as source chain protection and firmware defense, can be used. In addition, complementary process protection procedures will make use of routinely available information from solar farms and other era services to fortify basic safety measures.

“Across the distinctive partners, every single researcher is in demand of his or her personal components of the job, while functioning jointly to make certain issues combine in the close,” claimed Ye.

Resource: University of Ga

Maria J. Danford

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