Protecting the solar energy grid from cyberattacks

A long term run by renewables guarantees sustainable electrical power and a cleaner surroundings – but that doesn’t imply it is with out hazards. Incorporating added factors of era this sort of as solar farms can inadvertently introduce soft accessibility factors for cyber hackers in search of to exploit weaknesses in the nation’s power grid.

That is why Jin Ye and WenZhan Song, professors in the College of Georgia College of Engineering, are working with a consortium of companions from the public and non-public sectors to shore up the country’s power grid’s defenses.

WenZhan Song with a huge solar panel array in the track record. Illustration by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA

Utilizing a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Electrical power Solar Electrical power Systems Business, Ye and Song is part of a multilevel cyber defense job that aims to properly combine solar power systems into the grid. The College of Arkansas is the direct institution on the job even though the College of Georgia is the second-most significant receiver of the funding.

Ye, an assistant professor, and Song, the Georgia Power Mickey A. Brown Professor in Engineering, will create improved cybersecurity systems at two essential junctures – the solar PV inverter which connects solar power models to the grid, as very well as the broader technique itself. They intend to craft algorithms and use a equipment mastering-based hybrid intrusion detection technique to better guard solar technologies towards attacks. This two-stage method to defending the grid provides a layer of security, even though also firming up a person of the a lot more vulnerable ports of assault, the social PV inverter itself.

“For solar electrical power, there is an amplified penetration of PV systems into the market place, and the power grid is expanding a lot more dependent on them,” Song reported. “It is a great deal less difficult to assault solar systems, which are more and more deployed just about everywhere, relatively than assault a centralized power generator, which is a lot more securely guarded as a essential facility.”

The scientists want to make a new framework for the inverters where by several security capabilities, this sort of as provide chain security and firmware safety, can be employed. Additionally, complementary technique security techniques will make use of regularly readily available details from solar farms and other era amenities to enhance protection actions.

“Across the various companions, just about every researcher is in charge of his or her personal components of the job, even though working together to make positive things combine in the stop,” reported Ye.

Supply: College of Georgia