Smart Grids Making Green Energy Sector a More Lucrative Target for Hackers
A report out this week from Bloomberg claims that smart grids are making the green energy sector a much more lucrative target for hackers.
The report notes that large-scale connectivity presents an increased risk of “spies or criminals” causing blackouts. This threat will only be elevated with the addition of wind, solar, and other forms of green energy to the smart grid.
And despite the report’s focus on risk potential, it makes clear the urgency at which security needs to be increased. In the past 15 months, hackers “Dragonfly” and “Energetic Bear” have gained some level of access to U.S. and European power networks.
The U.S. Government and Utilities are already taking steps to beef up security. In February, President Obama signed an executive order calling for work to begin on assessing the parts of the grid are at the greatest risk.
Utilities are responding by increasingly budgeting for cyber security. According to the report, roughly a third of the 61 power companies surveyed by Ernst & Young claim to be spending more than $3 million per year on threat prevention.
Europe is also responding similarly. The report cites a prediction that consulting and testing for threats to cyber security is expected to double by 2016, totaling somewhere around 412 million euros—or $564 million.
Utilities may not be responding fast enough, however.
According to Bloomberg, the green energy sector was the top target for hackers in U.S. last year, accounting for 59 percent of the 256 recorded attacks by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Nick Hunn, Chief Technology Officer at WiFore, said that these are new challenges for utilities.
“If you talk to the utilities about what you have to protect against, it’s about transformers shorting out and trees falling on lines,” he explained. “That’s what they’ve been dealing with for the past 100 years.”
Utilities need to respond quickly, though, as the green energy landscape is becoming more vulnerable by the day.
“The amount of renewables being integrated into the grid is challenging reliability because there are more information and computer technology components being introduced in the grid,” Maurice Adriaensen, chairman of a European smart meter advising group and consultant for DNV GL, said, driving the point home. “The amount of cyber vulnerabilities is increasing.”
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.