Iowa Board of Regents

New cybersecurity center to protect grids integrated with renewables, microgrids

Wind turbines generating power under bright sunlight.

Bringing renewable energy to the power grid raises all kinds of “internet-of-things” issues, said Iowa State University’s Manimaran Govindarasu.

That’s because “everything is connected,” said the Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering.

Solar inverters are connected to the internet. Wind farm controllers are connected to the internet. And with each internet connection, energy resources distributed across the countryside are potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks. That could interrupt power transmission or even result in blackouts.

To help the power industry defend itself, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected a project led by Iowa State University engineers for a two-year, $2.5 million grant. Project partners will also contribute $1 million in cost-share funding, including equipment and labor costs.

The funding will create a new cybersecurity center based at Iowa State called CyDERMS, the Center for Cybersecurity and Resiliency of DERs and Microgrids-integrated Distribution Systems. DERs are distributed energy resources such as wind and solar farms or energy storage technologies. Microgrids are local DER grid systems that can be connected to or isolated from the larger grid. Closing or isolating grid connections can help maintain service during cyberattacks or damaging storms.

Read more at ISU News Service

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