Thursday, December 16, 2010

A more secure smart power grid

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is on the front lines of securing the emerging smart power grid against potential security threats.

Located in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the laboratory recently won about $7 million in Department of Energy solicitations to develop safeguarding systems against outages caused by nature or manmade threats such as computer hacking.

The smart grid -- a system in which home and municipal utility meters are run through a central hub and monitored and operated over the Internet -- has been a cause of some concern for security experts because of the large scale damage that could arise if it was corrupted.

"A stable electric grid is of huge importance now and will become even more important in the future as we move toward electrification of our transportation system," said Tom King of ORNL's Energy Efficiency and Electricity Technology program.

To that end, ORNL will put its money towards developing several security technologies, including a system for automated software vulnerability detection. Carnegie Mellon University and EnerNext Corp. are partners on that project.

ORNL will also pursue an advanced radio technology called the Next-Generation Secure, Scalable Communications Network. The radio is inherently secure, and will replace the current wireless technology used in smart grids. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Virginia Tech, and Kenexis and Opus Consulting will partner on that research.

[Source: Tech News Daily]

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