Protecting solar power - University of Arkansas

By Navin Mirania

The University of Arkansas (UoA) has announced that its engineering researchers are currently developing digital defences for solar power units.

Having received funding of US$3.6mn from the US Solar Energy Technologies Office, Alan Mantooth, distinguished professor and electrical engineering faculty director, will be leading a multi-institution team in its efforts to protect grid-connected solar technologies from cyberattacks. 

“As U.S. energy policy shifts toward more diverse sources, particularly solar, the Energy Department understands the critical importance of protecting these systems and technologies,” said Mantooth.

“We’re already developing systems to protect the power grid from cyberattack, and this work will be a logical extension of that effort.”

Protecting a valuable source of energy

Although it has been slower to gain momentum than other regions, such as Europe, solar power in the US is gaining significant traction and the UoA’s research will be critical to ensuring that it is implemented safely. 

SEE ALSO:

The primary dangers for solar PVs (photovoltaic panels) connected to a power grid are ‘inverters’ - a type of electrical converter which turns the panel’s DC output into a utility-friendly AC output. 

“They are the heart of the PV system,” Mantooth said in an article with PV Magazine.

“Inverters are one of the main connected devices and so if a hacker could take control; inverters would be a primary target because they are accessible and because they perform many smart functions to maintain stability and efficiency.”

By hacking into the PVs’ inverters, perpetrators could shut down the network, overload the batteries or destabilise the grid. 

Leading the research

The project which Mantooth is spearheading will include other institutions and companies across the US, including the University of Georgia, the University of Illinois and Ozarks Electric Cooperative

In addition to stepping-up solar PV protection, the team hopes to improve issues relating to supply chain security, develop real-time threat detection and identify digital defence weak spots. 

For more information on business topics in the United States, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief North America

Share

Featured Articles

Must-attend sustainability events for executives in 2022/23

Discuss and debate the most pressing issues around sustainability at these nine executive events – from London to Abu Dhabi, San Diego to Singapore

Meet the CEO on a mission to nurture women leaders in Africa

The argument for women leaders in Africa is compelling, yet numbers are small. But one female leader is on a mission to change that – Awamary Lowe-Khan

BCG's Daniel Weise on supply chain and procurement strategy

Daniel Weise, global leader of Boston Consulting Group’s procurement business line, on the timely publication of his new book, Profit From The Source

Flexible work perks heat up as the war on talent rages

Human Capital

Meet the COO: Former Israel Defense Force cyber lead Parnes

Technology & AI

People Moves: Pinterest, Amazon, DocuSign, KFC, Walmart Ca.

Leadership & Strategy