Cybersecurity Technology Innovation
NREL creates technologies that secure operations on a more connected, complex energy
Through foundational research and development, NREL is advancing the science and engineering
of advanced controls and defense strategies, hybrid intrusion detection, and design
methods that can help protect energy systems against disruption. By integrating cybersecurity
solutions into the design phase of a device or system, NREL is evaluating how future
energy systems can be more autonomous, intelligent, and intrinsically secure.
is a lightweight solution for securing data by encrypting, authenticating, and authorizing
communications across distributed energy systems. Module-OT provides low-latency,
accelerated encryption for operational technologies—either as stand-alone hardware
or as embedded software—and is available for commercial use. The module requires minimal
configuration from system administrators, is functional for both modern and legacy
devices, and is portable to a variety of Linux-based operating systems and architectures.
In laboratory and real-system evaluations, Module-OT has demonstrated reliable security
against a range of possible cyberattacks on critical system infrastructure, with significant
improvements in end-to-end communication latency. Module-OT has received a Certification
Algorithm Validation Program certificate; has been validated in a high-fidelity, utility-grade
environment with 500-kW of solar PV and storage; and can be used for operational technology
applications outside of energy systems.
Blockchain for Optimized Security and Energy Management is a multi-lab project within
the U.S. Department of Energy's Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium to develop
blockchain-based concepts for device security, secure communications, and grid resilience.
The project explores how blockchain can enable authentication of operating parameters
for generation assets, secure communications for accessing and balancing demand response,
secure market operations at the distribution level, and secure registration and authentication
of distributed energy resources. Blockchain for Optimized Security and Energy Management
will provide insight to utilities and industry on leveraging blockchain to enable
trusted communication among millions of energy devices.
Firmware controls millions of power-connected devices including protection components
and advanced inverters. However, little insight exists into the security of the firmware
supply chain, or the code libraries included in the firmware. In collaboration with
Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories
on the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium project, Firmware Command and Control,
NREL is investigating the security of internal software in devices that interact with
the grid. The cross-laboratory team is creating an agile embedded response capability,
with baselined firmware and behaviors and bidirectional sharing of threats.
NREL is evaluating the ability of 5G communications to address the inherent cybersecurity
risks of increased interconnections among new devices and the electric grid—and the
supply chain risks associated with such devices. Benefits such as network-slicing
features can improve the performance, security, and reliability of grid devices and
services, which is especially important as new technologies are introduced to increasingly
distributed energy systems. With laboratory-directed funds, NREL is evaluating use cases that employ 5G communications
to mitigate the impact of cyber threats to distributed energy systems.
NREL is developing Situational Awareness of Grid Anomalies
to monitor resilience on the electric grid. Situational Awareness of Grid Anomalies
will take advantage of cable broadband lines, which carry data related to power system
operations, to create high-speed and high-resolution visual analytics. Operators can
use this tool to examine relationships between cyber and energy events and rapidly
detect and analyze anomalous activity.
In collaboration with Idaho and Oak Ridge national laboratories, NREL is evaluating
the cybersecurity risks and challenges associated with electric vehicle fast-charge stations
. Researchers are evaluating high-consequence cyber events for electric vehicle fast
chargers, leveraging the Cyber-Energy Emulation Platform
(CEEP) to connect a fast charger in the laboratory to an emulated distributed energy
system. Using CEEP, researchers can compare attack scenarios to existing security
protocols and identify vulnerabilities and refine cybersecurity protection and mitigation
Cyber-Physical Events Emulation Based Transmission and Distribution Co-Simulation
for Situation Awareness and Grid Anomaly (SAGA) Detection, IEEE Power & Energy Society General Meeting (2021)
Cybersecurity for Electric Vehicle Fast-Charging Infrastructure, IEEE Transportation Electrification Conference and Expo (2021)
Module-OT: A Hardware Security Module for Operational Technology, IEEE Texas Power and Energy Conference (2020)
Module-OT Public Service Company of New Mexico Field Demonstration Test Procedure, Sandia National Laboratories Technical Report (2019)
Service-Based, Segmented, 5G Network-Based Architecture for Securing Distributed Energy
Resources, IEEE Power and Engineering Society General Meeting (2021)
Our technologies and laboratory capabilities support our partners in securing their
own operations and developing the next innovations in cybersecurity. Learn more about
partnering with NREL.