University of Arkansas: cybersecurity for solar

By William Girling
The Unive...

The University of Arkansas (UoA) has announced that its engineering researchers are currently developing digital defences for solar power units.

Having received funding of US$3.6mn from the US Solar Energy Technologies Office, Alan Mantooth, distinguished professor and electrical engineering faculty director, will be leading a multi-institution team in its efforts to protect grid-connected solar technologies from cyberattacks. 

“As U.S. energy policy shifts toward more diverse sources, particularly solar, the Energy Department understands the critical importance of protecting these systems and technologies,” said Mantooth.

“We’re already developing systems to protect the power grid from cyberattack, and this work will be a logical extension of that effort.”

Protecting a valuable source of energy

Although it has been slower to gain momentum than other regions, such as Europe, solar power in the US is gaining significant traction and the UoA’s research will be critical to ensuring that it is implemented safely. 

SEE ALSO:

The primary dangers for solar PVs (photovoltaic panels) connected to a power grid are ‘inverters’ - a type of electrical converter which turns the panel’s DC output into a utility-friendly AC output. 

“They are the heart of the PV system,” Mantooth said in an article with PV Magazine.

“Inverters are one of the main connected devices and so if a hacker could take control; inverters would be a primary target because they are accessible and because they perform many smart functions to maintain stability and efficiency.”

By hacking into the PVs’ inverters, perpetrators could shut down the network, overload the batteries or destabilise the grid. 

Leading the research

The project which Mantooth is spearheading will include other institutions and companies across the US, including the University of Georgia, the University of Illinois and Ozarks Electric Cooperative

In addition to stepping-up solar PV protection, the team hopes to improve issues relating to supply chain security, develop real-time threat detection and identify digital defence weak spots. 

For more information on energy digital topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Energy Digital Magazine.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Share

Featured Articles

CGG, now Viridien, Providing Data-Driven Earth Science

Longstanding French geoscience and technology company CGG has rebranded as Viridien, pivoting to high-growth areas like HPC and AI solutions

Equinix Data Centre Heat Warms Buildings and Swimming Pools

The Equinix Heat Export programme unlocks the value of residual heat generated in its International Business Exchange (IBX) data centres

GE Vernova’s CEO of Offshore Wind Jan Kjærsgård Steps Down

Following three years in the position of Offshore Wind CEO at GE Vernova, Jan Kjærsgård announced he stepped down as of 7 June

Celebrating World Environment Day: ‘Our Land, Our Future’

Sustainability

Scientist Claudia Sheinbaum: Mexico’s First Female President

Renewable Energy

Waste Heat From Google Data Centre Warming up Finnish Homes

Technology & AI