How do you defend the world’s largest machine? This is the question scientists and engineers have faced as the power grid presents an increasingly attractive target for hackers bent on societal disruption.
ORNL engineer Ben Ollis has spent the past few years researching grid resilience. Recently, Ollis has led the deployment of a microgrid governed by an ORNL-developed open source controller—called CSEISMIC, for Complete System-level Efficient and Interoperable Solution for Microgrid Integrated Controls—in Alabama Power’s Smart Neighborhood located in Hoover, Alabama.
Ten years into its program to create an automated smart grid supported by an all-fiber-optic communications network, the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee, has seen tremendous benefits. Power outages are down by 60 percent, and operational costs have fallen by some $60 million a year for the municipal utility operating in the town nicknamed America’s first Gig City.
ORNL researchers have long been engaged in research to protect the critical infrastructure that generates and delivers electricity. Today the work has a new sense of urgency as grid-focused cyberattacks are on the rise and utilities tackle the challenge of integrating intermittent renewable energy with traditional power plants.