Power grid protection: Building resilience to critical systems

The power grid is the center of our daily lives and economy. System interruptions can have catastrophic consequences.

More than ever, the grid faces an onslaught of threats, despite the fact that consistent power has been a fundamental human need for more than a century.

TechNewsWorld spoke with experts in this area about the important nature of the grid and what can be done to strengthen the backbone of social infrastructure.

“Electricity is an integral part of driving everyday life, business, and essential services, including security systems, communications, gas supply systems, and other critical infrastructure such as transportation, and electric vehicle adoption rates. It’s getting more and more, “says Hala Ballouz.President Power engineer, Told TechNewsWorld.

In addition, she added: “Electricity usage by residents and businesses changes in seconds, and on some devices used by these end consumers, it changes in milliseconds. The power network is the energy produced and the fluctuating consumer. Performs the important and complex task of balancing energy needs. “

Dynamic protection

The power grid is complex and requires complex systems to be installed to protect it.

“Grid threats and disruptions can disrupt this system, resulting in the inability to provide reliable power supplies to homes, businesses, and other critical infrastructures.” Ballouz explains. “The system must always be able to handle ever-changing operating conditions immediately, including managing the infrastructure outages of critical power grid supply systems,” she advised.

Due to the digitality of the modern world, the grid has become the center of our lives. Power infrastructure disruptions create dire and potentially life-threatening situations.

“As the world becomes more digital, reliable power is becoming more and more important,” said Chief Commercial Officer Mike Edmonds. S & C Electric Company, Told TechNewsWorld. “Whether you’re having a sunny day or in the midst of a heavy storm, you expect your power to stay on.

“Metrics and regulatory standards encourage utilities to provide their customers with a high level of reliable electricity, but these metrics are often experienced by utilities and their customers. Brings a disconnect between being and being. “

Multifaceted threat

The power grid faces a variety of threats, both natural and artificial. Systems that protect the grid need to consider all these possible hazards.

“Central threats to the grid include physical threats such as meteorological events (fires, floods, prolonged coldsnaps, hurricanes) that directly damage the grid infrastructure, fuel and It can disrupt the supply of resources and increase cybersecurity threats, “says Balllouz. ..

“Cyber ​​attacks can occur in the form of hard attacks (cyber physical), such as when a hacker has access to operate a device, or soft attacks, such as when a hacker manipulates measured data. This allows operators to make incorrect decisions in response to forged information.

These major threats are generally high-impact, infrequent events. It may not happen very often, but it can cause serious financial damage and loss of life, “she warned.

With climate change, meteorological events are becoming more and more serious and pose an increasingly serious threat to the grid.

“Natural disasters and man-made threats can have a serious impact on the power grid,” he said. Protect our power, Explained to TechNewsWorld.

“Most people are familiar with severe storms such as Superstorm Sundi, which causes power outages throughout the northeast. Hurricane Maria completely blacked out Puerto Rico. It affected the Texas grid in February 2021. Frigid weather. Extreme heat that affected California due to a mountain fire.

“In addition, space weather in the form of solar storms can affect the power grid,” he pointed out.

The effects of climate change are multifaceted and unpredictable in their own right.

“The increase in heat due to climate change reduces the efficiency of thermoelectric generators and power lines. More frequent and more severe storms can also damage the power grid,” he said. GridLab, Told TechNewsWorld. “Wildfires and their smoke also threaten power lines.”

Almost every component of the power grid is an attractive and potentially lucrative target for malicious individuals who can exploit the substantial effects of relatively easy access and disruption.

“The two main types of human threats are physical and cyber attacks on the power grid,” says Naumann. “Currently, cyberattacks are of greatest concern, especially if initiated by nation-states such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.”

Segmentation strategy

One key to protecting the grid is to make it more difficult to shut down the grid so that it can withstand a variety of threats.

“Utilities can take many approaches to building a more reliable and more resilient grid,” explained Edmonds. “One of the most effective ways is to install a smart device that can enhance the grid segmentation, which means that in the event of an outage, the number of affected customers will be minimized.

“By automatically testing failures, recovering power, and segmenting the grid with smart devices that can reroute, we can reduce the impact of outages on utilities and their customers.”

Building underground utility systems and implementing new technologies are also strategies that can be used to strengthen and protect the grid.

“Other tactics include underground utility systems that enable mesh networks, and replacing traditional fuse technology with automatic re-energization technology,” Edmonds explained. “Both approaches can prevent a temporary failure from becoming a persistent outage.”

Increasingly complex grids require complex threat mitigation strategies that go along with the grid itself.

“Without proper safety measures, electrical system problems can grow and grow very quickly,” says Ballouz. “The electrical industry has developed a network of defensive operational strategies to maintain reliability, based on the assumption that equipment can fail unexpectedly and in some cases. ..

Group initiatives

“This principle is represented by the requirement that the system must be operated to ensure that it remains safe after the unexpected loss of the most important generator or transmission equipment.”

Cooperation between entities is another requirement for a strong and resilient power grid.

“Recovery from a serious impact threat requires collaboration among all stakeholders in a system designed to recover quickly from an event,” says Ballooz. “In the past, designing such systems has focused on grid-scale equipment, which is a necessary priority, but it is no longer sufficient.

“As the number of active participants and technologies at the grid edge grows, we focus on carefully defining the architecture of this evolving system and the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in terms of both economics and reliability. It is important to guess. “

Given all the threats and vulnerabilities that exist today, it is imperative that everyone work together to protect systems that are more complex and therefore more endangered than ever before.

“Power companies and governments need to work together to protect against evolving threats and increase the resiliency of the grid,” Naumann advised.

“Resilience includes not only measures to stop the attack, but also investment to minimize the negative impact of a successful attack and the ability to quickly recover from the effects of the attack,” he continued. rice field.

“Of course, this means that as threats evolve, investment, training, processes, and training must continue to adapt and act on the lessons learned by utilities and government. “ Power grid protection: Building resilience to critical systems

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