GridBright specializes in Secure Grid Integration, helping the electric industry keep the lights on in the face of increased frequency of cyber-attacks, the intensity of natural disasters and penetration of renewable and distributed energy resources (DER)

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Secure Grid Data Exchange

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The idea of Secure Grid Data Exchange (SGDX) was born from years of research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) ARPA-E in securing grid data exchanges with input from a broad range of industry-leading organizations.  It is motivated by the utility industry's unique position in our society and economy, and the growing cybersecurity threats to the grid.  This first in a series of posts outlines the foundational elements of SGDX.  Future posts will describe the transformative technologies resulting from the idea.

The idea of SGDX is an open-source suite of cloud-based software, technologies, enablement and support services, and standards that provide the full set of capabilities required to instantiate any type of secure grid data exchange. It efficiently ensures secure and compliant grid data exchange among electric ecosystem participants encompassing the entire electric value chain from generation to consumers (prosumers) spanning business and real-time operations.

The story of SGDX is a vision of how the exchange of grid data—efficiently, securely, and compliantly—is the keystone for the next century of electric utilities as an essential service to our nation.

Electric and Data Grids – Essential Services

The utility industry is navigating in a world of remarkable convergence. It enters the 21st century at the beginning of integrating two world-changing sectors—electricity and computing.  The outcome of this integration promises to usher in a new era of clean, affordable, and secure electric energy supply. 

Managing, operating, and utilizing this new system securely, efficiently, and compliantly will require a transformed set of successor processes and protocols different from those employed today. Prominent among these new processes is how the industry exchanges grid data among new energy ecosystem participants.

SGDX imagines addressing this need.

SGDX's ambition is to ensure secure and compliant grid data exchange among all-electric ecosystem participants encompassing the entire electric value chain from generation to consumers (prosumers). It instantiates a set of processes, applications (SaaS), and enabling and support services spanning business and real-time operations. Secure, it employs state-of-the-art security approaches. Complaint, it provides intelligent monitoring and reporting to meet ever-escalating cyber threats and regulations. Efficient, it standardizes common processes for grid data exchange, minimizing risk and cost as critical data exchange grows in electric operations and markets.

The Essential Electric Grid

The essentiality of the electric grid is and has been widely recognized for over almost a century.

In 1936 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to bring electricity to all rural areas in the United States. Designed for multiple policy objectives, FDR and other leaders recognized that essential electricity service that was common in urban city settings was lacking in the rural areas of the U.S. Implementing this electrification was accomplished through electric COOPS, which mostly still exist today.

The U.S. government presently denotes the energy sector (electricity, oil, and natural gas) as one of sixteen critical industries[1]. It is one of the few essential industries upon which all the others critically depend.

Until recently, economists used electrification as a measure of a country's industrial maturity.[2]  World energy experts agree that expansion of electrification via decarbonization, digitization, and decentralization is key to addressing the Energy Trilemma—Energy Security, Environmental Sustainability, and Energy Equity.

The Essential Data Grid

The essentiality of the data grid in the computing sector is analogous to the electric grid.  The interconnection of computing hardware, software, and telecommunication networks is the base of economic, pollitical, and social interaction and commerce.

Although the data grid depends intrinsically (and perhaps ironically) on the electric grid to exist and operate, the interlock between the two is a relatively recent phenomenon.  Indeed, there is a significant focus on, and funding allocated to, creating the "Smart Grid," which is the foundation of the future's modern electric grid.  It is also the basis for much of the convergence, as mentioned above, between the two sectors.

The Shadow of Essentiality

It is nearly universally accepted that the convergence of the energy and computing sectors is beneficial.  Policymakers see it as critical in meeting global sustainability objectives.  Utilities see it as necessary to manage the technical challenges of intermittency inherent in the future's low carbon energy sources.  New energy ecosystem players see it as providing the transparency and interconnection required for efficient and dynamic energy markets. 

There is, however, a shadow to this convergence.  The dark side of the value that convergence brings to these broad stakeholder objectives and ambitions are nation-states, bad actors, and even well-intentioned but careless individuals who, through their action, or inaction, can damage either or both of these critical infrastructure sectors through cybersecurity breaches.

My next post in this series will cover the "Danger" SGDX is averting.

 


[1] https://www.cisa.gov/critical-infrastructure-sectors

[2] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/electric-power-and-natural-gas/our-insights/the-decoupling-of-gdp-and-energy-growth-a-ceo-guide

 

GridBright
GridBright specializes in Secure Grid Integration, helping the electric industry keep the lights on in the face of increased frequency of cyber-attacks, the intensity of natural disasters and penetration of renewable and distributed energy resources (DER)
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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 12, 2020

The utility industry is navigating in a world of remarkable convergence. It enters the 21st century at the beginning of integrating two world-changing sectors—electricity and computing.  The outcome of this integration promises to usher in a new era of clean, affordable, and secure electric energy supply. 

Such an exciting prospect!

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Nov 12, 2020

Very timely. The desire to open networks up and enable consumers, partners, energy producers, and utilities to exchange information offers them the ability to streamline business processes, improve service, and lower costs. Hackers breaking in represents a real and present danger. No company is large and technologically advanced enough to close up all the possible holes, so an open source consortium approach makes the most sense. 

Stephen Callahan's picture

Thank Stephen for the Post!

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