As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to protecting America’s energy critical infrastructure, the Energy Department (DOE) has invested more than US$34 million for two projects that will improve the protection of the US electric grid and oil and natural gas infrastructure from cyber threats.
The University of Arkansas and the University of Illinois will assemble teams with expertise in power systems engineering and the computer science of cybersecurity to develop new technologies that will help protect energy delivery systems which control the physical processes that result in the delivery of continuous and reliable power.
Under the Academic Collaboration for Cybersecurity of Energy Delivery Systems Research and Development for the Energy Sector Funding Opportunity Announcement, the Universities of Arkansas and Illinois and their partners will engage with utilities and suppliers of energy delivery systems and components from early research through the eventual transition for use by the energy sector. Lessons learned from these R&D efforts will be shared through academic outreach to ensure that the technical knowledge also transitions to the energy sector. This investment emphasises the vital role that strong cybersecurity technologies and practices play in creating a modern power grid that is reliable, resilient, and secure, as discussed in the Energy Department’s Quadrennial Technology Review released in September 2015.
“Cybersecurity is one of the most serious challenges facing grid modernisation, which is why maintaining a robust, ever-growing pipeline of cutting-edge technologies is essential to helping the energy sector continue adapting to the evolving landscape,” said Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary for DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. “To meet this challenge, we must continue investing in innovative, next-generation technologies that can be transitioned to the energy sector to reduce the risk of a power disruption resulting from a cyber incident.”
DOE awarded over US$34 million to the following two projects:
- University of Arkansas: US$12.2 million DOE investment with US$3.06 million recipient cost-share. The University of Arkansas consortium will conduct research, develop tools, and evaluate their effectiveness through testing at the University of Arkansas’s National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission and partners’ test facilities. Additional testing will be conducted by Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corp. The technologies will then be transitioned to industry for commercialisation and deployment.
- University of Illinois Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium (CREDC): US$22.5 million DOE investment with US$5.6 million recipient cost-share: The CREDC consortium will undertake research, development, education, and outreach activities, with intense industry engagement, to develop solutions. The CREDC model explicitly creates a pipeline that generates research results and takes them through to evaluation and deployment of prototypes in industrial settings, with a handoff to the energy sector through licensing, startups, and open-source mechanisms.
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