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NREL Workshop Convenes Industry Experts on Cybersecurity and an Evolving Grid

October 2017

NREL Cyber Physical Systems Security & Resilience Center Director Erfan Ibrahim talks to full audience in a hotel conference room.

On October 9-10, NREL’s Cyber Physical Systems Security & Resilience (CPSSR) Center hosted its second annual workshop at the Denver Marriott West in Golden, Colorado. With the workshop theme “best practices for distributed energy resource (DER) security,” attendees hailed from utilities, vendors, and other national laboratories across the United States.

Exploring the dire subject of cybersecurity and the electric grid today, a number of common concerns and opportunities were shared throughout the two-day event. Among these, attendees called attention to the existing gaps in security for DERs, interoperability of security standards for DER, the impact of organizational silos in a field that demands greater collaboration, and the benefits of systemic security architecture for DER.

“I wanted this year’s workshop theme to be in complete alignment with the focus of our center’s work,” said NREL’s CPSSR Center Director Erfan Ibrahim. “We wanted to share what we have done, get feedback, learn about what others are doing, and finally, find a way to work together to reach our common goal for high penetration of secure, reliable and resilient distributed energy resources on the grid.”

Presenters covered topics from the convergence of information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) to mitigating the dangers of electromagnetic pulse, security implications of connecting microgrids to the macrogrid, and what research is needed to mitigate the challenges that still exist in DER security today. At the end of the workshop, attendees split into breakout groups to identify possible solutions to the challenges in securing DERs—from a technology, business, and policy perspective. A report that details the outcomes of the workshop will be published by the end of the calendar year.

NREL’s CPSSR team offers utilities and energy-sector companies an independent resource to evaluate the security of emerging technologies from experts in the field. Learn more about NREL’s work in cybersecurity and resilience research.