How Smart Grid Technology Is Driving Renewable Energy
Securing Renewable Energy IoT
As with any networked environment, security must be a key consideration for IoT-based renewable energy installations. Given the criticality of the services they deliver, any compromise to the integrity of IoT renewable energy grids could be disastrous, potentially causing power shortages and even blackouts across interconnected power grids.
A variety of traditional security techniques may be applied to help protect renewable energy grids, including time-tested technologies such as VPNs. Encryption may also be employed, but given the volume of data and the velocity at which it transverses the IoT grids, some familiar implementations of encryption — particularly software-based encryption — just can’t keep up. A more viable alternative may be hardware-based encryption.
“A lot of these systems are just not encrypting at all, so just moving to basic encryption is a step,” said IIC’s Murphy. He cites Intel and AMD as two chip-level manufacturers that are building encryption into their IoT devices, noting that “the encryption algorithms can be done in hardware.”
It may also be beneficial to parse the data on the grid to determine which types of data need particular security measures rather than employing a one-size-fits-all security scheme. While this approach can reduce the overhead of activities such as encryption, it can also add a measure of complexity. In fact, authentication — ensuring that the data comes from a trusted source and is unalterable — may be all that’s required.
“It’s important to stratify the data,” said Schneider Electric’s Feasel. “What data do you need to answer a question in the time horizon that you have to answer it and what’s the most appropriate place to do that.” He points out that certain events affecting the devices on the grid need immediate action, but others may not need such urgent remediation.