Securing the grid by moving tech from lab to market

National lab eyes blockchain for energy grid security

With the U.S. power grid rapidly evolving into a dynamic system with distributed energy generation and connected, smart loads, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is looking into the potential of blockchain to secure energy delivery systems that have transactional attributes.

"Improving the ability to identify, control, and secure grid devices with blockchain technology may increase the security and trustworthiness of real-time energy transactions without adding prohibitive costs, latency, interoperability or scale issues," PNNL Grid Cybersecurity Research Program lead Paul Skare said in his written testimony at an Aug. 21 Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

“By using a private blockchain, this approach has the potential for power applications to add items at scale to the blockchain every second, and to verify data from the blockchain within the next second,” he said. “This quick updating ability is essential to handle the increasing data requirements of the modern power grid.”

Blockchain can support enhanced cybersecurity controls and patch management, and it can secure supply chains, device integrity, and supply and demand transactions between micro grids. Other potential use cases are electric vehicle charging and billing applications, meter data access management, peer-to-peer trading of distributed energy, supplier switching and emissions certificates.

“Securing our electric grid is a long-term endeavor that will require range of strategies and new technologies; there is no one silver bullet,” Skare said. “Blockchain is just one set of tools we must develop as we work to accomplish the goal of securing our energy systems.”

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


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