A potential run by renewables guarantees sustainable electrical power and a cleaner environment – but that doesn’t indicate it is without threats. Incorporating extra points of technology these as solar farms can inadvertently introduce smooth entry points for cyber hackers searching for to exploit weaknesses in the nation’s ability grid.

Which is why Jin Ye and WenZhan Track, professors in the College of Georgia College of Engineering, are doing work with a consortium of companions from the community and private sectors to shore up the country’s ability grid’s defenses.

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

Working with a $3.six million grant from the U.S. Section of Electricity Solar Electricity Technologies Workplace, Ye and Track is aspect of a multilevel cyber defense undertaking that aims to safely combine solar ability units into the grid. The College of Arkansas is the guide establishment on the undertaking when the College of Georgia is the next-major recipient of the funding.

Ye, an assistant professor, and Track, the Georgia Electric power Mickey A. Brown Professor in Engineering, will build increased cybersecurity units at two critical junctures – the solar PV inverter which connects solar ability models to the grid, as nicely as the broader system by itself. They intend to craft algorithms and use a device understanding-based mostly hybrid intrusion detection system to better guard solar technologies against assaults. This two-degree solution to shielding the grid provides a layer of safety, when also firming up a single of the much more vulnerable ports of attack, the social PV inverter by itself.

“For solar electrical power, there is an enhanced penetration of PV units into the industry, and the ability grid is growing much more dependent on them,” Track claimed. “It is significantly much easier to attack solar units, which are progressively deployed everywhere you go, rather than attack a centralized ability generator, which is much more securely guarded as a critical facility.”

The researchers want to create a new framework for the inverters the place various safety capabilities, these as provide chain safety and firmware safety, can be used. Additionally, complementary system safety methods will make use of regularly offered details from solar farms and other technology amenities to reinforce basic safety steps.

“Across the various companions, each individual researcher is in cost of his or her individual components of the undertaking, when doing work with each other to make guaranteed points combine in the stop,” claimed Ye.

Source: College of Georgia